2:00PM Water Cooler 6/19/15

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


Clinton still crawfishing: “Right now, I’m focused on making sure we get trade adjustment assistance, and I certainly would not vote for it unless I were absolutely confident we would get trade adjustment assistance” [Bloomberg]. What on earth does “absolute confidence” mean? McConnell and Obama’s stones in a jar?

Australian fair trade campaigner Dr Patricia Ranald: “The Senate process requires a 60-vote majority out of 100 [senators] for a procedural vote to enable the new fast track bill to be debated by the Senate next week. This is less likely without [TAA]” [ABC Australia].

“A previous vote on the issue only passed with 62 votes in May, and if there’s continued pressure from the likes of Sen. Elizabeth Warren — and even Hillary Clinton — it could be tough to pull off again” [CNN].

“Senate aides said support among Democrats hinged on another trade issue, the Export-Import Bank, which may have to close at month’s end” [Reuters]. Which I believe Republicans hate.

“The only U.S. government projection of TPP’s outcomes concluded it would result in 0% economic growth. This has led many economists who supported past trade deals to oppose TPP” [Lori Wallach, USA Today]. “Consider the 2012 South Korea agreement used as the TPP template. The U.S. goods trade deficit with Korea almost doubled in the pact’s first three years. This equates to more than 90,000 American jobs lost, according to the ratio the administration used to promise job gains from the deal.”

The view from Singapore: “However, [Asia’s front-line economies] have to adjust their economic and foreign policies to stay abreast of change. America remains for many the partner of first choice, but the strength of that partnership will depend on its desire to play a decisive regional role. It has the ability; what needs demonstration is the will” [Editorial, Straits Times, “Trade is strategy for America in Asia”]. The other side of grand strategy here, is that if the elite want play on the global chessboard, they’ve got to maintain legitimacy at home, and they’re losing it. Granted, the ISDS mechanism, as well as the “Living Agreement” and the Trans-Pacific Partnership Commission, to which Jeff Sessions (!) has drawn attention, as well as the Fast Track process itself, which guts the prerogatives of the supposedly co-equal legislative branch, are all attempts by our elites to move beyond those pesky voters, but they have not fully achieved this yet.

“Suddenly Chris Van Hollen Votes Against A Free Trade Agreement– First Time In Ten Years– Primaries Work!” [Down with Tyranny]. Of course, for many, the issue is whether primaries work enough, and how much re-work has to be done (a lot). Nevertheless, times are different now: The Blue Dogs and DINOs no longer carry all before them.

“Without fast-track authority, every clause in a TPP agreement will be open to congressional tweaking; that makes negotiations practically impossible” [The Economist]. Experience teaches that a deal that we can’t make constitutionally isn’t worth making.

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“Asked why [Confessed killer Dylann] Roof picked that particular church, [Roof’s friend] Mr. Meek replied, “Because it was a black church'” [New York Times].

“Roof, 21, has told police that he ‘almost didn’t go through with it because everyone was so nice to him’ [NBC]. “And yet he decided he had to ‘go through with his mission.'” NOTE: Both the Columbine and Aurora shooters also had “missions.” Clearly, this highly militarized trope is very destructive.

[Dylann Roof] was given a gun by his father as a 21st birthday present in April, his uncle told Reuters [Reuters]. Of course, we don’t know if that was the gun.

“Juneteenth [today] is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States” [Juneteenth.com]. Suggested readings.



From Ready for Warren: “Why Sanders is a good fit for Warren backers” [CNN].

Crowds of 5,000 to see Sanders in Colorado [Agence France Presse]. Iowa: 800. Minnesota: 4,000. Not bad, although crowds aren’t votes. And: “Sanders set a goal of raising $40-$50 million before next year’s New Hampshire primary in order to be competitive.”

The Sanders organizer in Atlanta, Georgia doesn’t seem to understand how to organize a meetup [WaPo]. Somebody take him aside and explain that shouting and chanting are for rallies, not meetups. The Dean meetups were great. Lots of conversation and networking.

1996 Clinton Democratic strategist: “It’s quite possible [Sanders will] win a primary some place and will have the momentum. He may do well in Iowa or New Hampshire. The question is, how do you deal with that? [The Clinton campaign] need to be prepared to organize and surround him on the ground and prepare a response without just going out and attacking him” [The Hill].

Sanders meets with Hillary in 1993 on single payer, as the Clinton I health care debacle played out [Politico]. Sanders brings Stephanie Woolhandler and David Himmelstein, leading advocates for single-payer health care” to meet with Hillary Clinton, who was chairing the administration’s Task Force on National Health Care Reform:

They got their meeting at the White House that month, and the two doctors laid out the case for single-payer to the first lady. “She said, ‘You make a convincing case, but is there any force on the face of the earth that could counter the hundreds of millions of the dollars the insurance industry would spend fighting that?'” recalled Himmelstein. “And I said, ‘How about the president of the United States actually leading the American people?’ and she said, ‘Tell me something real.'”

Well, it was all real enough for the people who died for lack of health care. So there’s that.

Why Sanders may not be able to run in New York: “A section of state election law commonly known as Wilson-Pakula prohibits candidates from appearing on the ballot in a party’s primary unless they are either enrolled members or receive the approval of the party’s committee,” and Sanders is not a registered Democrat [Capital New York]. I would imagine the Sanders staff are working on this, since both Teachout and Hawkins show that the base is looking for alternatives to Democratic loyalists in New York. So I’ll be waiting for all the “progressive” columnists who wrote that a challenge to Clinton would be good for her campaign to pipe up and support a Sanders challenge in New York, and I’ll be waiting for Clinton to explain to the New York Democratic Party Committee why the same principles that compel to support voter access for all compel her, and them, to support ballot access for a legitimate competitor for a place on the ticket.

The S.S. Clinton

“Bill Clinton had wanted [Clinton Foundation] plans to proceed for a meeting in early June in Athens, Greece, which was being spearheaded partly by Greek shipping magnate Gianna Angelopoulos. The former Greek parliamentarian and her family have donated as much as $10 million to the Clinton Foundation through their personal and foundation accounts” [Politico]. Here is the Bill Clinton – Angelopoulos – Syriza connection; not sure what to make of it. In any case, the Foundation is now only accepting foreign donations from Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and the United Kingdom. One can only hope that contributions from Australia and Canada in no way affect Clinton’s position on TPP, if any, given that both countries are potential signatories.

Nooners on the primariez: “[Clinton’s] Democratic opponents will not attack her character, her history, her financial decisions, her scandals. They will not go at her personally. She will emerge dinged but not damaged” [Wall Street Journal, “Hillary Will Glide Above It All]. “Republicans this cycle will likely go after each other in a personal, rough way, bloody each other, and damage the eventual nominee, while Mrs. Clinton will glide along relatively untouched.” I have a sneaking fondness for Nooners, and I think she has a lot more integrity than, say, MoDo, and her picture of the two parties is interesting.

Plucky Billionaire Watch: “Scoop: 25 questions the Koch brothers want every 2016 candidate to answer” [WaPo]. For “scoop,” read “access.” I mean, come on. 

“The 2016 presidential field has so far divided into two camps: the very wealthy, and the less so” [Wall Street Journal, “2016 Disclosures Show Gulf Between Rich — and Not So Rich”].

Republican Establishment

Jebbie on Charleston: “I don’t know what was on the mind or the heart of the man who committed these atrocious crimes” [HuffPo]. At a minimum, then, inexcusably bad staffwork; see above.

“During Bush’s eight years in office, Rayonier would secure almost $100 million from the state of Florida in exchange for surrendering logging rights and property. In 2008, two years after Bush left office, Rayonier gave him a seat on its board of directors as it continued to sell property to Florida” [Business Insider]. The Bush Dynasty is quite direct about its influence peddling. The Clinton Dynasty does its influence peddling through “a ginormous and ever-evolving hairball of tangled and conflicted personal and institutional relationships.”

Republican Principled Insurgents

Reuters/Ipsos poll: Walker “the clear favorite of conservative voters” [Reuters]. “While ardent conservatives only account for 1 in 10 Republican voters, they are more likely to vote in primary contests and take an active role in politics.”

Walker: “Right now, America needs a champion who will fight and win for each and every citizen” [Red State]. You read that right; Walker lifted Clinton’s trope! You gotta love the guy…

Rubio cancels Sarasota fundraiser “with backers saying they want to reschedule the event in the fall when more seasonal residents are in town” [Herald-Tribune].  Yes, the yacht basin is practically empty!

Ohio Governor Kasich seeks squillionaire owner, targets Rupert Murdoch [Politico].

Stats Watch

“None of the [Greek] government’s bonds traded publicly last week nor derivatives insuring them” [Bloomberg].

“European markets are showing few signs of panic, even after Thursday’s Eurogroup meeting ended with no deal” [Wall Street Journal, “Europe Markets Show Caution Not Contagion on Greece”].

Atlanta Fed Business Inflation Expectations, June 2015: “Inflation expectations held unchanged”  [Bloomberg].

“When Will Rates Rise?” [Bloomberg]. I think I can answer that: When rich people decide it’s a bad idea to give them free money, i.e., on the 1st of Never.


“New NASA Studies Show the World is Running Out of Water” [WaPo].

“[Upscale] Master-planned community at risk of losing all water within days” [Los Angeles Times]. Edwin Pattison, general manager of the Mountain House Community Services District:

“The reality is we’re going to get some water supply,” he said. “The question is: Is it going to be enough to maintain permanent landscaping or are we going to lose tens of millions of dollars of value that supports the aesthetics of this community?”

I think that is just the best quote ever.

Class Warfare

“The Left’s great global downturn” [Capx].

News of the Wired

“The untold pirate radio story in New York” [Doc Searls Weblog].

“New Study: No, Dear, The Answer Isn’t More Guns” [Wonkette]. Yes it is. The answer to any problem with guns is always more guns. 

* * *

Readers, feel free to contact me with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, and (c) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. And here’s today’s plant (Anne):


This is a rose from Anne’s neighbor’s garden. Nobody said you had to photograph your own plants!

If you enjoy Water Cooler, please consider tipping and click the hat. I need to keep my server up! And pay the plumber…. And the family…


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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. willf

    From Ready for Warren: “Why Sanders is a good fit for Warren backers” [CNN].

    Even CNN gets in on the sheep herding.

  2. James Levy

    That money quote which Lambert finds so priceless is in actuality terrifying. Could it be that these people have no idea that when the water runs out for the azaleas, it also runs out for you? What will their property values be when large areas of Southern California dry up and turn to desert the way they did in the 1860s? In City of Quartz Mike Davis recounts that the old hacendados of the Los Angeles basin had survived the American conquest and occupation. What destroyed them was the drought of the 1860s, which literally killed all their cattle and forced them to sell out to Irish and Jewish land speculators from San Francisco. A brown lawn may cut into your property value. A house with facets that have run dry is unsellable.

    1. Ed S.


      A minor point: although the article appeared in the LA Times, Mountain House is actually about 50 miles east of San Francisco. It became one of the “drive ’til you qualify” towns during the great RE bubble of 2002 – 2007/8. It exists solely due to the insane prices in the Bay Area — where commuting 100+ miles a day (3+ hours round trip on a good day) was the only chance to buy “the house of their dreams”.

      I’m a California resident and all of the “don’t water the grass, take a 90 second shower” admonishments to urban residents will not amount to squat (even if fully implemented) if the state doesn’t curtail commercial cultivation of water-loving crops (top three water using crops are: 1) Alfalfa, 2) Rice, and 3) Cotton. Wrap your head around those – rice and cotton in the desert. Growers water use isn’t even even metered (and makes up 80% of the water use in California.

      And people wonder why California is “running out” of water.


  3. geoff

    Re “The Left’s great global downturn”: in what alternate dimension is President Obama even slightly “left wing”?

    1. allan

      The hilarious thing is that even though the piece was written by someone from a neolib-neocon think tank in the UK, its excoriation of “left-wing purists” just as easily been written by any number of US columnists and political consultants who self-identify as liberal.

    2. craazyboy

      In Fox News World I think it’s because Obama Care. Plus the general understanding that Michelle is a communist. Also too, deficits.

    3. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®©

      It is important for our masters to keep that hoax alive.

      And they’re doing it. Even as Obama get his corporate sellout throught the House with a minimum of Dem votes.

    4. JohnnyGL

      Here’s my favorite part:
      “The fundamental reason for the Left’s unpopularity is that it still hasn’t answered the biggest question it has faced since the second world war: what does it mean to be left-wing when the money has run out?”

      Boy did that one set alarm bells ringing in my head!!! Because the right NEVER wastes money on dumb, corrupt schemes, tax breaks (handouts) for their buddies and giant, never-ending wars!

      Of course, fiat money can’t actually ‘run out’ any more than you can run out of home runs in a baseball game. You just eventually devalue the currency (or the home run) when there’s too much of it.

      1. JTMcPhee

        In the Greatest Game, Baseball, don’t the rulers regulate the crap out of the homer-generating thing? When the pitchers start getting an edge, the ball gets reworked, the height of the mound goes down, and so forth (and maybe a little more enforcement of rules against cutting the ball, adding various sticky and slimy substances to it, all that?) Batters doing better? Change the configuration parameters of the bat, maybe do a little more enforcement of rules on pine tar and corking and (shhhh!) steroid amendments to the batters’ musculature?

        Of course since it’s “Moneyball” now, everyone involved is in on the scam and working to sucker one urban populace after another into building a billion-dollar New World Class Stadium, so the carpetbagging owners won’t actually carry out their constant threat to move to another gig… And increase the tie-ins and TV revenue and all that. To where the Rays owners would say that this is a game for the Rich, “who will gladly pay the cost to go to the new stadium, to be seen. The poor can stay home and watch it on TV.”

        Nothing is what we think it is, is it?

        And what outcomes do we want, from our political economy?

  4. Ned Ludd

    The Left is splitting in Britain and across the world because too many people on the Left want an ideological purity that has a student politics feel to it. […]

    Look to Canada, Germany or Australia and you can see how splits on the Left between traditional and radical left-wingery have helped centre right parties into power.

    The Social Democrats (Socialdemokraterne) in Demark were only in power, previously, because of support from the left: Red–Green Alliance (Enhedslisten) and the Socialist People’s Party. The Social Democrats then sold part the public energy company to Goldman Sachs, cut benefits for the unemployed, and “shunned its far-left support partner, Enhedslisten, to forge a cross-aisle tax-reform with the [right-wing] opposition at the last minute.”

    The tax reform received praise from Danish businesses.

    “It is incredibly difficult to reduce tax on work,” Karsten Dybvad, managing director of Dansk Industry, a business lobby organisation, told the Ritzau news agency. “A higher earned income credit and a higher limit to paying the top tax bracket will mean that many in work will benefit from working extra.”

    Political commentators are warning the tax-reform has further alienated core left-wing supporters of Socialdemokraterne and coalition partner Socialistisk Folkeparti, continuing a trend that has seen voters fleeing both parties in droves, partially in response the perceived lack of commitment to ‘red’ policies.

    The capitalist left sneers at the purity of anyone who stands in the way of enriching the oligarchs. They also ignore that the xenophobes who won a surge of support in Denmark ran to the left on economic issues.

  5. frosty zoom

    why, he took our guns and gave them to gay muslims so they could get married and live on welfare.

    [whoa, big bumpdown!][in response to geoff]

  6. Cujo359

    At a minimum, then, inexcusably bad staffwork; see above.

    I’m inclined to see Jebbie’s viewpoint here. When someone learns to like the people he’s with, but shoots them anyway, that’s something that would be mind-boggling in a sane world.

      1. craazyboy

        If you take Roof’s quote during the shootings and substitute the word “Christians” for “blacks”, then that would appear to be the case.

      2. Gareth

        Rick Perry says the shootings were an accident caused by drug use. Of course, his statement itself may have been caused by drug use so there’s that.

        1. Kim Kaufman

          sign seen on church lawn during last primaries:

          “Rick Perry. This is God.
          I am not talking to you.
          Take your meds.”

      3. MikeNY

        Yes. Pat Robertson’s “700 Club” tried explicitly to further this meme. Of course, it feeds into their meta-narrative of a “war on Christianity” by everyone from ISIS to gays to the Supreme Court.

        And it is, as far as I can tell, an outright lie.

  7. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®©

    “A previous vote on the issue only passed with 62 votes in May, and if there’s continued pressure from the likes of Sen. Elizabeth Warren — and even Hillary Clinton — it could be tough to pull off again”

    Yeah, this time Schumer might have to leave his prints on the knife and vote with the GOP.

    1. Pat

      I honestly don’t see him being willing to stick his head on the block for this. Back room machinations that aren’t all that back room – you bet. But actually vote for this piece of shit without any cover….Not so much. And let’s be honest – this time there is no cover. The promises were flimsy enough the last time this went to the Senate. Now that everything the Democrats supposedly wanted as cover for their vote got jettisoned, and now there are promises that aren’t worth the breath used to make them regarding a relatively useless bill of support for displaced workers.
      I may think that every member of Congress who votes for this is vastly underestimating how much of the public distrusts and despises these agreements regardless of ideology, but considering the intricacies of his (and Pelosi’s dance about this) I think Chuckie knows this is one sell out his voters won’t forgive.

  8. Jill

    Bernie Sanders: “In a new interview with the Daily Beast’s Eleanor Clift, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) identifies this as a key moment of failure by Obama:

    “I have a lot of respect and admiration for Barack Obama,” [Sanders] said, but the “biggest mistake” he made after running “one of the great campaigns in American history” was saying to the legions of people who supported him, “Thank you very much for electing me, I’ll take it from here.”

    Questions to ponder: 1. why does Sanders have, “a lot of respect and admiration for Barack Obama”? 2. Although disbanding the loyal troops who elected him does not seem like an accident to me, supposing Bernie is correct. Is this really Obama’s biggest mistake? His other mistakes have killed people, starved them, made them homeless, destroyed the rule of law. To my mind, these are far worse actions.

    Now I understand people will say that Sanders has to suck up to Obama in order to get elected. I don’t agree with that. We need a person who has the inner courage to explain in no uncertain terms that the actions of Obama are not worthy of respect or admiration. I want a candidate who isn’t afraid to speak truth to power. If you think illegal wars and murder are bad things, then say so. I find it despicable that Sanders would say he has respect for a person who murdered a child and crowed about it.

    As citizens, are we going to draw a line about who we elect? Because I don’t see people doing that with Sanders. Is there nothing he can do that is beyond the pale for liberal voters? If not, he’s not different than Obama and neither are our citizens. We will get the same policies by tolerating the same policies. That is truth.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      “Sanders has to suck up to Obama.” Not precisely; he has to court Obama supporters. Sorry, but there it is. (Personally, I’ve found sticking the shiv in by taking the high road* to be just as effective, if not more so, than a full-throated denunciation using a bludgeon. Of course, I’m not telepathic, so I don’t know that’s what Sanders is doing here.)

      * “And Brutus is an honorable man…”

      1. Jill


        He does not need to say much of anything about Obama to court his supporters. He could speak of what he wants to do and where he thinks this nation is going wrong. He can talk about what he thinks needs to be done to right these wrongs.

        A large part of the problem in our nation is our citizens. Too many people are tolerating that which should not be tolerated out of party loyalty. We have got to stop turning our ethics on a dime because “our” party is doing the actions.

        Today’s column by Kathleen Parker is the same idea applied to Republicans. Here she is talking about HWB: “…who was courtly, kind and handsome…” She then goes on to praise GWB and although she hasn’t met him, likes Jeb. Really? She’s in love with two bona-fide war criminals? WTF?

        Our citizens are nothing thinking clearly. We are partisan and we excuse torture, murder and starvation based on that partisanship. In short, we are a large part of the problem. I don’t think this partisanship should be played to. First it is rank propaganda that got us to this point and secondly, if we don’t. as a group of people, pull together a consistent set of ethical principles which we stand by, we aren’t going to ever make anything better. Either we think certain actions need doing and others are wrong and are willing to stand up for those principles or we will get more presidents just like Bush and Obama.

        Sanders isn’t playing 12 dimension chess. He is saying things whose implications matter. Obama stated many things right up front. People ignored those, saying he didn’t mean that, had to do it, was playing 12 dimension chess, etc. He wasn’t. The sooner we as citizens affirmatively stick to what we really want to happen in our nation, the faster chance we have of getting anywhere. The years of excuse after excuse must end, now.

          1. Jill


            Yes, it is dangerous to criticize the powerful. Still, it should be done.

            Sanders doesn’t need to praise Obama, yet he did so. As citizens, we cannot just keep ignoring what Sanders says and has done. He has a record. He is a known, known. We already know what happens when citizens ignore what a leader says and does. It doesn’t end well for ordinary people of this or other nations.

            1. Vatch

              My point is similar to what Lambert was saying. Sanders risks losing a significant number of votes if he is heavily critical of Obama. A lot of Democratic voters continue to be Obots.

              I criticize Obama frequently, but I’m not running for office. Sanders needs to court the voters who reflexively associate any criticism of Obama with racism.

              1. Jill


                First, Sanders is praising Obama, not critizing him. He should stop that immediately.

                Secondly, citizens are able to have a real discussion about Obama’s policies. If we cannot do this, we need to learn how really quickly. One reason is coming up–the next issue will be is that we cannot criticize Hillary because she is a woman. That’s no less of BS than race as used by Obama. This ease of falling for propaganda can and must end.

                Sanders could speak plainly, letting the chips fall where they may. That is what he would do if he really was trying to help our nation. Even politicians cannot play it safe if they mean to help institute real difference in our nation’s terrible policies.

                The fact that Sanders is treating people like idiots who cannot follow a discussion about our nation’s policies is a really bad sign. I think the person at Counterpunch has it correct-quit falling for wolves in sheep’s clothing and put our energy into a true activist movement.

                1. Lambert Strether Post author

                  Please don’t double post. (I deleted the duplicate.) All that will is train SkyNet to think that you’re a spammer, since that’s a thing that spammers do.

                  1. Jill


                    When I try to post, nothing happens. It doesn’t say my comment went to moderation. It just disappears completely. If I close down my browser, the comment is gone. I refresh the browser it’s gone. It only said “duplicate comment detected (or something like that)” one time. What is your advise under these circumstances?

                2. Lambert Strether Post author

                  The assumption is that people can’t walk and chew gum at the same time. Saying that Sanders has a good position on single payer and activism can be “both/and” and not necessarily “either/or.”

                  To put this another way, PNHP are activists, and I bet they appreciate Sanders raising single payer’s profile!

    2. James Levy

      What I think you are longing to hear from Sanders so that you can trust him and vote for him with a clear conscience is “Barak Obama is a lousy neoliberal narcissist sell-out who has sold this country down the river to the Plutocrats who dominate both legacy parties. He and his foreign and domestic policies stink and I renounce them and Hilary Clinton who is bound to follow the same path.”

      OK, I can buy that. Maybe a bunch of people here at NC can buy that. But probably 75% of Democratic primary voters, and 95% of African-Americans, don’t, won’t, or can’t buy that, and Sanders is trying to get himself the nomination. It may be stupefying to us but the clear majority of Democrats like and support “their” president. Getting them to the point of denunciation is just a bridge too far. All you can do is critique Obama with a “he means well, but” approach if you are going to get nominated while he is still the standard-bearer of the party and sitting in the Oval Office. Even Bobby Kennedy, who hated LBJ with every fiber of his being, had to say publically that he was not running to oppose any man, but to propose new policies.

      1. Lambert Strether

        Unbundling policy, party, and candidate makes life easier.

        As long as Sanders puts his platform before voters successfully, that’s a win for me as a voter, and anything else is gravy.

        1. Jill

          His platform is already in view. He is a proven war monger. He has folded on a number of important issues in the Senate. That is why Sanders will never get my vote.

          1. Vatch

            I think you’re being overly harsh. Sanders, while he was in the House of Representatives, voted against the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002.

            Please pardon the cliche, but the perfect is the enemy of the good.

              1. Vatch

                I read the Counterpunch article, and it is completely lacking in specifics. Just a vague accusation that Sanders has supported military adventurism for his entire career. Here’s some documentation that he’s not a supporter of military adventurism:


                In the real world, there’s often plenty of inconsistency and ambiguity. Could you please provide some specific evidence of Sanders’s war mongering? The Counterpunch article completely lacks documentation.

                Also, do you support any of the announced candidates for President? If not, who are the worst, and who are the relatively best? Yes, I know, I hate lesser evil voting, but the election is still a long way off.

                1. Jill


                  Here is a discussion by Juan Cole: It is a nuanced analysis but here is an important excerpt. “Sanders supported the Israeli attack on Gaza last summer but thought the Israeli army was a little heavy-handed and ‘over-reacted’ with some of its actions like bombing schools being used as civilian shelters. (There were no weapons at these schools). Sanders excused Israeli actions against Gaza civilian populations on the grounds that missiles were being fired from Gaza into Israel from populated centers. The Israeli campaign killed around 2000 Palestinians, most of them non-combatants…”

                  I’m looking into Lincoln Chafee but I really need to see what his record is. I also want to see about the Green Party.

                  Still, as I said above, worrying about who is elected president is a very small part of what we need to do as citizens. We need an activist citizen movement. A president can do a lot of damage when citizens refuse to act in our own behalf.

                  1. Vatch

                    I found the article by Juan Cole on the internet:


                    Here’s are two excerpts:

                    Bernie Sanders opposed the 2003 invasion of Iraq and subsequent occupation of that country.
                    Sanders wanted to get out of Afghanistan from 2011 much faster than the timetable announced by President Obama. Obama has now more or less extended a US military presence in Afghanistan, advertised as a training mission, indefinitely. My reading of Sanders is that he would get out of that country entirely.

                    Sanders’ Israel policy seems likely to tilt more toward Tel Aviv than that of Obama, though Sanders did boycott the address of PM Binyamin Netanyahu to Congress in March.

                    I agree that based upon his record, Sanders does not deserve the Nobel Peace Prize (some winners don’t deserve it either). But he is not a war monger, and this is confirmed by the Juan Cole article.

                    1. Jill


                      The Juan Cole article is the link I have as well (which I thought I had put in, sorry). That’s why I said it was a nuanced evaluation. There are many instances of Bernie voting for war funding and being willing to wage war.

                      “Notably he supported NATO’s bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999, a stance which caused one of his staffers to resign in protest…

                      Brecher’s note to Sanders closes with a set of rhetorical questions, “Is there a moral limit to the military violence you are willing to participate in or support? Where does that limit lie? And when that limit has been reached, what action will you take? My answers led to my resignation.”

                      The attack on Kosovo is hardly the extent of Sanders’ hawkishness. While it’s true he voted against the Iraq War, he also voted in favor of authorizing funds for that war and the one in Afghanistan. More recently, he voted in favor of a $1 billion aid package for the coup government Ukraine and supported Israel’s assault on Gaza. At a town hall meeting he admitted that Israel may have “overreacted”, but blamed Hamas for the entire conflict. After a woman asked why he refused to condemn Israel’s actions, he told critics: “Excuse me! Shut up! You don’t have the microphone.”


                      I really find the example I quoted earlier appalling. There are others you can find elsewhere that I find equally appalling. His actions are really wrong to me and I’m not voting for someone who does these things.

                    2. Vatch

                      I’m curious: is there anyone in the U.S. Senate or House of Representatives whom you believe is not a war monger?

          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            As I’ve said, I’ve personally unbundled party, candidate, and policy. I think it is an unqualified good that policies like single payer, or free college education, and even the word *** gasp *** socialism are now part of the public discourse. It’s very difficult to advocate for policies that nobody knows about. That’s dragging the Overton Window left, and changing the conventional wisdom is part of the battle. And that’s down to Sanders, because he is the one who picked up the ball and ran with it.

            That doesn’t say I’ll vote for Sanders, or that I’ll vote for any Democratic Party candidate at all; the Democrats have done a lot of damage to my state and my local area.

            I suggest you consider a similar approach, since bundling party, candidate, and policy verges on electioneering.

            1. Jill


              I’ve already addressed this a while back and mostly agree with you. Yes, it is great to hear certain ideas spoken of and I am happy about that.

              I don’t agree with you that it’s down to Sanders. There are other voices speaking on things that matter. Certainly, it is helpful to have a candidate who has a national forum speak about such things. (Obama was and is a socialist!)

              My point is much deeper. Speaking about things is one thing and acting on them is another. That’s what Obama did. He spoke well on many important problems. People refused to look at how he acted on those same problems.

              We cannot make that mistake again. More importantly, voting for president isn’t the most powerful, meaningful thing we do as citizens. It does matter who we vote for. However, it is more important to understand what we really value and work towards achieving those things together.

              In the case of Obama, I have often wondered about this- what if his voting base been able to see him for who he was very soon after his election? What if they then pressed him to be the man they believed he was when they had voted for him? Maybe, even Obama might have had to move in certain directions. For example, he might have been forced to actually close Gitmo. He might have been forced to bring prosecution for torture, etc.

              Now many people are speaking of Sanders in the hushed, uncritical manner that I heard from Obama supporters. That worries me. We need to make certain that those things which need doing, are done. I liked your original idea of working on a platform of things that citizens really valued. Then, even if someone feels they must vote for Sanders, should he not be working towards those goals, then people should know immediately to push back.

              1. Lambert Strether

                Yes, it’s important to retain critical thinking skills; we don’t need Sanders bots.

                Dragging the Overton Window left, to qualify, is down to Sanders at the national level because of Sanders. People can argue that it ought not to be, but it is. (AFAIK, the GP does not have a declared Presidential candidate yet.)

                As for my “original idea,” here it is, but I don’t think it’s either NC-ready or NC-appropriate.

                1. Vatch

                  Nice ideas. I suspect that platform numbers 11 and 12 are impossible with a world population of 7.3 billion, unless one is willing to sacrifice platform numbers 1, 2, 4, 6, 7, and maybe some others. In other words, clean air, water, soil, food, and a carbon negative economy won’t happen unless the vast majority of the world’s people are willing to live in poverty. Since they aren’t, we can also expect new wars over resources, and the continuation of some of the existing wars.

                  I don’t like this state of affairs, but I don’t see any way around it. If we want a non-dystopian future, the population must become a lot smaller. And this an only be achieved by reducing the birth rate; increasing the death rate is absolutely unacceptable.

                    1. Ligurio

                      This is all wrong. It is true that the world can’t sustain 7.8 bln people who want a new iPhone every six months…i.e. We can’t have 7bln Americans.

                      But all the data shows that the gains to be won from population regulation in terms of consumption are negligible in comparison with the really ludicrous wastefulness of the US.

                    2. Vatch

                      Actually, if everyone on Earth lived at the level of consumption of the people of Costa Rica (1.4 Earths required) or Nepal (1.9 Earths required), it would be unsustainable.

                      It’s true that if we all lived at the level of people in Bangladesh, we could sustain our current population. Who wants to live like that? I suspect that most people in Bangladesh would be delighted if they could live like people in Costa Rica.

      2. Lambert Strether

        On 95% of African-Americans, I haven’t seen any polling, but I thought the CBC’s less than enthusastic response to Obama whipping for the TPP was interesting. Perhaps eight years of Obama failing to deliver has had an effect.

      3. Gerard Pierce

        What I think you are longing to hear from Sanders so that you can trust him and vote for him with a clear conscience is “Barak Obama is a lousy neoliberal narcissist sell-out who has sold this country down the river to the Plutocrats who dominate both legacy parties. He and his foreign and domestic policies stink and I renounce them and Hilary Clinton who is bound to follow the same path.””

        You’re probably not going to hear it from Sanders. It’s the kind of statement that amounts to a declaration of war against neo-cons and neo-libs. There are people who agree with the statement who will feel obligated to join the counter-attack.

        It’s also one of the most succinct and accurate descriptions of Obama that I have ever read.

    3. Kim Kaufman

      What Bernie is saying, imo, Obama’s mistake was to promise the voters “change” and then tell them to shove it and govern with non-change. Everything else stems from this basic hypocritical maneuver.

      The Cornel West thing is different.

      1. Jill


        Obama gave the voters a clear indication of who he was before the election. His adoring fans ignored his FISA vote.

        It is time to take stock in ourselves. Who are we? What do we really stand for? When Obama dismissed his voters, they were waiting for marching orders from him. When those didn’t come, why didn’t people move on our own behalf? Why do we need a president to tell us what needs doing and to get “marching”?

        The problems we face are perfectly clear. We don’t need marching orders from a president to take action. We need the courage to step forward and work on those goals together. It will work a lot better without any sell-out leadership. We can do this!

      2. Jill

        I have a reply to you KIm, which is just disappearing like my relies to Vatch. I hope it will show up! It’s not saying it’s in moderation, it just disappears.

      3. ian

        Please, there were those of us at the time who darn well that the public was being played by Obama.
        He’s in it for himself and always has been. For me, it was the little things that gave him away – the styrofoam greek columns on the platform and the podium with the presidential seal saying ‘Office of the President Elect’. That ‘Hope and Change’ baloney did it’s job – it got him elected.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Indeed. Bruce Dixon made an earlier call, and Adolph Reed an even earlier one; both had the advantage, if that is what it was, of watching Obama coming up in Illinois. (Of course, I hadn’t seen through Krugman yet.. And to be fair to Krugman, he had not yet had his famous dinner with Obama that apparently did so much brain damage.)

    4. different clue

      I suspect a re-reading of Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing: On The Campaign Trail ’72 would be useful.

      I am reminded of the part where Muskie talked of Wallace with well-rehearsed loathing after Wallace won the Florida primary whereas McGovern talked in terms of respectful disagreement. McGovern was talking to Wallace’s voters, especially the Wallace voters in states yet to have their primaries.

      Perhaps Sanders is doing something similar. Perhaps Sanders’s people and maybe Sanders himself have even read Hunter S. Thompson’s book.

  9. Ron

    Mountain House buildout part of the great urban movement from the Bay area to LA has finally hit the water wall. The idea that Calif developers could endlessly build out single family homes on Ag property is the basis for the building industry in Calif. NO water no urban sprawl

    1. different clue

      How much water per square mile does a squre mile of urban sprawl consume as against a square mile of irrigated agriculture land? And especially, how much water per square mile does a square mile of alfalfa or cotton or rice land consume in California? Per square mile?

  10. LLL

    Re SC, MILSPEC decapitation targeting is still in vogue. N.B. the little peckerwood was careful to pick off Clementa Pinckney. Recall, these same cutouts killed MLK’s mom in church too.

  11. Jessica

    Social Democracy in Denmark is like a very nice private club. The club is kind to most guests but can’t really be scaled up to take in too many newcomers as members. In fact, it functioned primarily because of a high level of social homogeneity (and a healthy disrespect for authority).
    Right now, there are two visible economic alternatives in the West. The one we are actually living in is globalization driven by misery arbitrage: the misery of most third world residents is weaponized to immiserate first the first working class and now increasing portions of the middle class. The only really visible alternative at this point in time is to try to go back to a more national economy. This proposal is primarily being articulated by the European far right. Some of those far right parties seem to focus primarily on opposing immigrants but are economically neo-liberal. Given enough power, they will immiserate the working class of their nation without even needing immigrants. The Danish People’s Party seems to be genuinely defending those parts of Danish society most negatively affected by the shift from a national to global economy. This combination of being on the left when it comes to economics (and social safety net) for ordinary ethnic Danes with a crude and mockably unsophisticated hostility toward Danes and would-be Danes who are not ethnically Danish does not quite correspond to anything that exists in the US.
    Their rise is a canary at the other end of the EU coal mine from Greece. It shows that the moral legitimacy of the EU is being chipped away.
    Make no mistake though, the EU still has huge moral legitimacy in Europe since the baseline it is compared against is roughly the period 1914-1945.
    Also, there are of course other alternatives besides toxic globalization and a futile attempt to turn back the clock. Both I think those are the only two visible enough for most people to consider even vaguely viable. At this time. We need to change that.

      1. ambrit

        True, but, couldn’t some meme be formulated to equate ‘poor’ Democrats with ‘poor’ Republicans? First idea: I’m imagining two people on a city street facing Godzilla. Panel one shows them pointing to each other and saying, “He’s the one you want to stomp!” Second panel shows one big monster foot stomping both people at the same time.
        Second idea: Panel of King of Monsters in middle of burning city. Thought balloon above monsters head; “Hmmm. They all look alike to me. I’ll stomp them all!”
        Third idea: Picture one, All American City in dazzling colour. Caption: “Your city.” Picture two, decayed All American City in black and white. Caption: “Your city after Walker.” (Stolen from War Against Drugs ads. Appropriate usage since we’re fighting against cognitive capture.)

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