The Crackpot Realism of Clintonian Politics

Yves here. For worthy critique of the Clinton defenders’ crackpot realism, see Steve Waldman’s Your theory of politics is wrong.

By Nathan Tankus, a writer living in New York City

Despite the title, this isn’t exactly about Hillary Clinton. It’s about the liberal pundits who defend her at every turn. Their preening attitude is best illustrated in this tweet from a journalist at Vox. Incidentally, is there no phrase that represents self satisfied modern liberalism more than “tweet from a journalist from Vox”?

You see, critics of Hillary Clinton are children who only recently became politicized that should just shut up. This attitude is peculiar for a few reasons. First, during election season there’s nothing that pundits love more than to denounce young people for not being interested in politics and voting more. Now that they start to pay attention it’s time to shut up and stop being so interested in discussing politics. Pundits evidentially want young people to help get elected the person that “adults” have already selected, not actually have any influence over the political process. Second, the supposed strawman Roberts is beating up on is actually not wrong! You’d think when making fun of “millennials” it would be wise to pick something more negligible than throwing millions of people into crushing poverty. But to the liberal commentariat that was so long ago and her agency was (and is) small.

Some of these same pundits will object to the claim that they “defend her at every turn”. They will point to some mildly critical article they wrote or an interview they did with Sanders seven months ago as evidence of their “objectivity”. These comments comically miss the point. First, the amount written taking Hillary Clinton’s self image as a realist and “serious politician” is leaps and bounds greater then the writing critical of her or supportive of sanders. Even Vox criticism of her reads like PR consultations. Second, ardent defense isn’t measured in how much you write on “each” topic. It’s measured in the tone and attitude pouring through all your writing and in this case it’s overwhelming. To take but one example (again from Vox), here is Ezra Klein writing at the end of January:

Clinton’s theory of change is probably analytically correct, and it’s well-suited to a world in which Republicans will almost certainly continue to control the House, and so a Democratic president will have to grind out victories of compromise in Congress and of bureaucratic mastery through executive action.

In this piece overall there’s allusions to the criticisms leftists have of Clinton and a few nice words for Sanders but the overall message and tone, best expressed in this quote, is “Clinton is serious, Sanders is unserious and we need seriousness”. Even Krugman who coined the phrase “Very Serious Person” is chiding people because they “don’t want to hear that they’re being unrealistic”. One gets the feeling that the Iraq war was a personal affront to Krugman because he couldn’t help but be on the wrong side of mainstream punditry of the time and now that both the war and the great financial crisis he can finally return to his proper role as a conventional commentator.

The most bizarre thing about these desperate calls to realism is our modern context. In what possible way is it “realistic” to continue voting for the lesser evil when we have an ongoing climate catastrophe no mainstream Democrat or Republican is willing to discuss, let alone actually do something significant about? During Obama’s first term he even pressured environmental groups to stop or tone down their discussions of climate change. Each lesser evil candidate just happens to be a greater evil than the last one. Each of their politics are unimaginable even as one is in the throes of the attacks on basic human decency engendered by the last one. The slogan of the Democratic party is “it could always be worse” while the promise is “it will always be worse”. When your realism involves supporting a trend that could quite realistically mean the end of human civilization forgive me for holding you in contempt.

In crackpot realism, a high-flying moral rhetoric is joined with an opportunist crawling among a great scatter of unfocused fears and demands. In fact, the main content of “politics” is now a struggle among men equally expert in practical next steps — which, in summary, make up the thrust toward war — and in great, round, hortatory principles.

Charles Wright Mills writing nearly sixty years ago captures this dynamic perfectly. Whereas then the steps towards war could be apocalyptic because of nuclear annihilation now the steps towards war seem more like a distraction while we sink into greater economic doldrums and come closer to social death. But not only does all this ignore the existential threats, it completely misses how American politics has evolved for over four decades. To the liberal commentariat the status quo is irrevocably right wing and politicians like Obama and Clinton are simply “grappling” with this reality. As Klein said “Clinton’s theory of change is probably analytically correct”.

What they miss is these right wing Democrats have profoundly shaped this status quo. Bill Clinton’s treatment of poor people was unimaginable before him and par for the course after him. Obama’s treatment of ordinary homeowners would have been a preposterous fictional story of campy villany. Now it’s just how the world works. Sanders (for all his faults on issues like Israel and immigration) is actually looking to push the center to the left for once and is hoping to galvanize ordinary people to do it. It’s the realism of the psych ward that says we’ll solve climate change, help ordinary people and build a workable economy by supporting an endless series of politicians who care less and less about the issues that matter and exploit hopeful supporters more and more cynically. Admonishing young people for both not voting and desiring anything other than a debt-crippled, climatologically-unstable future feels more like admonishing serfs for being insufficiently pious and for caring about what happens to themselves or their children on this plane of existence. In short, realism is just a code word for “shut up, sit down and be quiet”.

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  1. voteforno6

    Ezra Klein’s comment that “Clinton’s theory of change is probably analytically correct” is lazy and wrong. An examination of the historical record, if he actually bothered to do so, would bear that out. Just look at the pattern by which Constitutional amendments have been enacted. If change to the political system was truly incremental (and what’s a more significant, and difficult, change than enacting an amendment to the Constitution), then you would expect the passage of these amendments to be more evenly distributed throughout history. Instead, they are clumped, which suggests something quite different.

    1. DJG

      Lazy in so many ways: As Klein said “Clinton’s theory of change is probably analytically correct”.

      Clinton has no “theory” of change. If she has a workable hypothesis of how history pays out, and how politics adapts to current events, she should let us know. Like Obama, she “does what works,” except that both of them being corporate types, what works is usually some half measure, allowing the problem to fester while they get bonuses. Attending to a problem is for the little people in accounts payable. Witness the ACA and deductibles, Libya (this morning’s news), Syria, the XL Pipeline (a six-year decision?), Guantanamo and torture, Turkish involvement in every kind of dirty deed involving Kurds and Iraq. And she has been theoretically involved in all of these slow-motion catastrophes.

      “Analytically correct” is meaningless. Does he mean borne out by experience? Probably not. He seems to mean “borne out by a paper by some grad students in economics.”

      1. optimader

        “Clinton’s theory of change is probably analytically correct”.

        Could I have some Stilton with this Word Salad, I don’t think it’s quite stinky enough.

        To be more than a splash of wasted digital ink EK should be framing HRC “theory of change”, then establishing how it can legitimately be described as analytical. Very little in political rhetoric that I’ve been exposed to can be referred to as analytical.

        More importantly, EK should explain with a little more analytical granularity how HRC’s “theory of change” is in the best interest of Public Policy going forward.

        HRC’s thematic “Trust me, I have the answers because I’ve had a bunch of different Job Titles, and I talk to all sorts of people here in The Mutual Admiration Society Bubble. What I can tell you, the unwashed masses, is that we can’t consider any meaningful changes because we are too far in the weeds now, But I’m fighting for you!”

        Bottom line, either EK doesn’t really know what the word analytical means, but thinks it has gravitas (another noun abused in political descriptions), or more likely he is doing his modest best trying to advance the meme of HRC being a Policy Wonk, afterall —she talks to a lot of advisors, and stuff…

      2. jsn

        I think its clear she has a highly operational “theory of how history pays out”, though it may not play out as she intends!;)

      3. RP

        Not sure if you meant ” If she has a workable hypothesis of how history pays out” or “plays out”.

        Works either way. I think I like “pays out” better.

        1. DJG

          Pays out: As in history paying out like a rope, slackening and tightening, or like the thread through the labyrinth that Theseus used, paying out till, somehow, he emerged.

      4. DanB

        Klein is probably referring to Charles Lindblom’s 1959 “Science of Mudding Through,” thesis (AKA Logical Incrementalism), which is a staple of academic political science and policy analysis. Klein utterly fails to understand class conflict theory.

      5. Propertius

        I tend to ignore pronouncements of “analytical correctness” from a self-proclaimed “wonk” who finds the Constitution confusing because it was written “a hundred years ago”.

  2. DakotabornKansan

    Wonk-storm continues to rage over Bernie Sanders and University of Massachusetts professor, Gerald Friedman.

    “For wonks like me, it is, frankly, horrifying.” – aeolist Krugman today, “Varieties of Voodoo”

    It’s just how the wonk world works.

    “Monster, I do smell all horse-piss; at which my nose is in great indignation.” – Trinculo addressing Caliban in Shakespeare’s The Tempest

    Friedman does not actually support Bernie Sanders for president. He’s voting for Hillary according to the Washington Post.

    Clinton is serious, Sanders is unserious and we need seriousness.

    The C. Wright Mills quote captures it perfectly: “In crackpot realism, a high-flying moral rhetoric is joined with an opportunist crawling among a great scatter of unfocused fears and demands.”

    1. MikeNY

      aeolist Krugman — LOL!

      Could this be the same Paul Krugman who has been harping for years on insufficient demand, the output gap, and the imperative of more stimulus / deficit spending?

      Next thing you know, he’ll be running around screaming Sanders will turns us into GREECE, GREECE, I tell you!

    2. Jim Haygood

      Let’s put a finer point on ol’ C. Wright Mills:

      “In crackpot realism, a high-flying moral rhetoric is joined with a professionally designed money laundering and influence peddling operation called the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation.”

      Two billion dollars of grifting is the elephant in the living room that the venal MSM won’t talk about.

      It takes a village … to evict the Clintons.

    3. wbgonne

      “Crackpot realism” is a wonderful phrase and I thank Mr. Tarkus for re-introducing it. I hope it gets legs.

      Apropos, I recall once arguing burning all the carbon fuel buried in the earth would destroy civilization and destabilize the planet as a human habitat. The reply was that burning all that carbon fuel was inevitable because of the economics. That is crackpot realism.

  3. Michael C

    I use to be a liberal and thought the title a badge of honor. But as I’ve watched the decline of anything I believed in and how liberals have helped in this decline, I came to realize that in the end liberals will always support the status quo if it protects their economic security. In short, the have a decidedly class consciousness, but it is one that only gives stuttering nods to the working class, who they seem to put up with or, worse, quietly despise.

    Continued support for lesser evil-ism is a slow slide to the same destination as the quick plunge over the cliff–self destruction and the destruction of our natural world. Liberals have participated in this slide by not having a real class consciousness that clearly pierces the destructiveness of capitalism and the systemic overhaul needed to actually have a world our children and grandchildren and all the progeny down the line after them, can live in.

    Yes, we have gotten incremental change with the Clinton philosophy, but it is a continual change to the worse. Real change in our history is often built over many years and result in a relatively quick change in policy. Historically the liberal class has been accommodaters to slow change, and the more radical elements have been the ones to push and cajole them to commit (or submit) to change.

    I not longer vote the lesser evilism I once defended in the past, since as I said, its endgame gets one to the same place. H. Clinton is the poster-child of the failure of liberalism, if one could even make the case that she were a liberal to begin with. In the end, Marx has it right when analyzing the problem with liberals, and I was somewhat slow to adopt his prescient analysis.

    1. Steven D.

      Incremental change won’t cut it. It never has. While progressives eke out small victories here and there, the crooks run off with the store. Incremental change by design benefits the crooks.

      1. roadrider

        The “incremental change” is a nothing more than a gentler slope towards the normalization and cementing of right-wing ideas and policies than the Republicans are offering.

        1. RUKidding

          Yes! This!

          Yet when I say this on certain blogs or to some D-voter friends, I’m “spanked” for being childish and expecting sparkle ponies.

          I had a conversation on another blog (thoughtful) from a commenter who truly didn’t “get” how authoritarian and tribalistic the so-called “left” is these days. While it doesn’t manifest in quite the same way as the crazed extremism on the right, I find most D-Voters to be as authoritarian and tribalistic as those on the right. They just speak in a more erudite way.

          I feel that the whole MO of Clinton’s campaign is appealing to this form of so-called “liberal” authoritarian tribalism. Vote for ME bc I can win, and then I’ll be just a teeny tiny bit more “liberal” than what you’d get if the R candidate wins.

          Of course, the Clintons are Kings and Queens of triangulation, and it’s what gotten them to where they are now. They are super rich from it, and as indicated, they fund a lot of other D-candidates.

          They are good friends with the Bush Crime Syndicate. Figure. It. Out. is what I want to say to some of my friends.

          1. FunkNjunk

            All you have to do is to look at the programs Obama continued from the Bush Adm… And watch how condemnation turned to support. Tribalism at its finest.. Glenn Greenwald had written lots about this. Surveillance… Drone assassination codified. Even torture, which Obama condemned, is guaranteed to happen again because of the lack of consequences. All so Dems wouldn’t Rock the establishment boat…

      2. RabidGandhi

        Don’t tell me, I tell you
        Me and my people just about due
        I’ve been there so I know
        They keep on saying, “Go slow!”

        But that’s just the trouble, do it slow
        Washing the windows, do it slow
        Picking the cotton, do it slow
        You’re just plain rotten, do it slow

        But that’s just the trouble, do it slow
        Desegregation, do it slow
        Mass participation, do it slow
        Reunification, do it slow

        Do things gradually, do it slow
        But bring more tragedy, do it slow
        Why don’t you see it? Why don’t you feel it?
        I don’t know, I don’t know

        –Nina Simone (and she means every word of it).

    2. Carla

      Thank you, Michael C, for your a cogent comment re: liberalism. It took the last gasp of “hope” for me to throw in the Democrat towel permanently in 2009. I promised myself I will never vote for a Democrat presidential candidate again, and I do keep my promises.

      1. Lee

        Me three with you and Michael C. I voted for Obama the first time around and watched with disbelief and deep disappointment what followed.

        1. Vatch

          Yes, I too was fooled by Barry O. in 2008, so I voted Green in 2012. The good news is that Obama isn’t running in 2016 (something Constitutional), and we have a chance to prevent Hillary Clinton from being a candidate. The catch is that people will need to vote for Sanders in the primaries, though. Sanders is a dedicated opponent of much that is vile in the status quo.

    3. Teejay

      Correction Michael, pseudo Democrats and pseudo Liberals support the status quo. The party sold its soul to get Wall Street cash to get elected, beginning in 1992. Barack more of the same. I don’t see Liberalism as the problem. Spineless Democrats “leaning toward the green”, that’s the problem.

  4. Steven D.

    The smug liberals are saying you need a crook to work with the crooks. I want people who will go to war with the crooks.

    The message of the liberals is, “Abandon all hope. Vote for Clinton.” Or, “You like Bernie but settle for Hillary.” Inspiring. Ainna?

    1. weinerdog43

      My proposed bumpersticker:

      “Hillary… meh… might as well”

      Sort of captures the “excitement”

        1. optimader

          I’ll be printing up something along the lines of
          “Progressive Leadership… Want It Bad? Vote Hillary”

            1. optimader

              They area a fifth column.
              At least the right wing wackjobs are straight-up in their sincerity.. Thirdway fakes like BHO, or Clinton, Inc are stealthy and misrepresentative of their intentions. HRC’s present campaign rhetoric showcases that point.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Now that Shepard Fairey has endorsed Bernie, I’m waiting for him to knock off his own Obama HOPE poster with a Social Realist depiction of Hillary, headlined “NOPE.”

        1. Jim Haygood

          … ‘n just for funsies, another one of her consort “Bill,” headlined GROPE.

          Hey what’s your name?
          How old are you?
          Where’d you go to school?
          Huh, yeah

          Well, now that we know each other a little bit better
          Why don’t you just come over here
          Make me feel all right!

          — Jim Morrison, Gloria

      2. Barry

        Why I’m not in charge of the bumper stickers:

        Hillary ’16
        It’s better to feel good about getting things we don’t want than to feel bad about not getting things we do want

      3. Pavel

        New bumpersticker, courtesy of HRC’s latest TV interview:

        Hillary: I’ve always TRIED to tell the truth

        Video here and elsewhere for those who haven’t seen it yet. As one person said, a Hillary “deer in the headlights moment”:

        Hillary Clinton: “I’ve Always Tried To Tell The Truth To The American People”; The American People Disagree

        I wish the interviewer had followed up with: You say you TRY to tell the truth, but why is it that a majority of voters find you untrustworthy and deceitful?

    2. mad as hell.

      “Watson, quickly come here and take a look at this. It appears we have finally found the Brooklyn Bridge Seller”‘ said Sherlock as he picked up a Hillary Clinton email document in his gloved hand!

    3. Brindle

      This two year-old article from Buzzfeed captures the hubris of the then unannounced Clinton campaign trying to lay groundwork in Iowa.. Ready For Hillary is such a descriptive phrase of all that is wrong with the campaign. Good stuff here:

      — While Ready for Hillary members said they intend to lay early Iowa groundwork for a potential campaign, the group seemed prepared only to set up tables at state events, hand out bumper stickers, and collect more names for a list they presume Clinton’s eventual campaign will purchase. The locals who attended the meetings had another suggestion: If Ready for Hillary wants to build support, it should help Iowa Democrats win races this year.—

      —The midterms tug at a larger potential problem for Ready for Hillary: Now that the PAC, which has presented itself to voters as a sort of draft campaign for Clinton, is engaging on the ground with Democrats in primary states, there is an expectation that the group will “be the player on her behalf,” Smith said. “Certain obligations flow from that. We have to figure out how to deal with it.”

      “And I got nothing for you,” Smith said, laughing.—

      —Iowa, Oldson said, likes its candidates to beg voters — not the other way around. “This is just a different twist on how Iowans view getting into presidential campaigns,” she said. “It’s Iowa asking her to run, rather than the candidate asking Iowa to elect her.”—

      1. sleepy

        Yeah, that article is pretty disgusting. Her campaign is nothing more than the long, studied, rollout of a product–Hillary Clinton.

        The “Ready for Hillary”—creating fake “ground roots” product demand prior to the product’s actual market debut has to be one of the most tellingly empty political plans ever.

        1. human

          Oh…I don’t know about “empty.”

          Just from those two quotes above, something is expected in return. Money (“selling the list”) or position/power.

  5. Mark Alexander

    I am sure that if HRC were campaigning in, say, 1852, she would tell Frederick Douglass that he was being unrealistic, and that if she were to be elected president, she would push for legislation that would require cotton plantation owners to improve the quality of the gruel being provided to their slaves.

    1. vidimi

      that would be a great comic for the meme age. inserts of hillary into key moments in history offering “compromise” and admonishing a lack of realism.

      1. Ulysses

        “I promise to personally work with my friend Marie Antoinette– to see that she makes good on her promise to provide cake, to the most deserving of those less fortunate!”

        “Some people criticize me for calling Genghis Khan a friend, and asking him for foreign policy advice. They don’t know how the world really works!”

        1. Jason

          “We need across the board improvements in black schools! Black children can’t wait for some better idea that will never, ever come to pass.”

            1. Peter Everts

              Far too generous. This is an electronic, no hands on transaction. $2 at most for “convenience”.

      2. vidimi

        hillary to nelson mandela: stop being so unrealistic, you know the whites will never go along with it.

        hillary to rosa parks: how about you sit at the back of the front of the bus? that way, you can still make a statement without ruffling any feathers

      3. RP

        “Independence is pie-in-the sky! Be realistic! We need to work with the British Monarchy to reach compromises which will allow us to pay marginally less tea tax and limit conscription of colonists to 20 years.”

    2. Ulysses

      Awesome comment! The problem that HRC and her collusionists have, now in 2016, is that no more than 25% or so of the U.S. adult population really have much to lose if the status quo is severely disrupted. Authoritarian control techniques of demoralization, material deprivation, and victim-blaming work very well to keep the rabble in line– until they don’t.

    3. EmilianoZ

      Well, it did take a war and 1 million dead for the slaves to be freed.

      It took WW2 and 70 million dead for Europeans to get their universal healthcare and other niceties.

      What will it take for all of us to have a decent life?

    4. Jim Haygood

      Were Hillary campaigning for the black vote in 1852, she’d promise:

      (1) ‘Everyday low prices’ in the plantation commissary;
      (2) Professional licensing for overseers;
      (3) Extradition hearings to authorize the return of runaway slaves;
      (4) Limiting all-day cotton picking to children over 8 years old; and
      (5) Ruthlessly opposing the ‘extremist agitation’ for emancipation.

      Feel the technocratic love! :-)

      1. RP

        “John Brown is a treasonous rabble-rouser who is DANGEROUS. He needs to be brought to heel along with the super-predators he loves so much.”

        Historical examples with HRC Classics woven in. Go!

  6. vidimi

    The slogan of the Democratic party is “it could always be worse” while the promise is “it will always be worse”.

    very well put

    1. RUKidding

      The other slogan of the D Branch of the UniParty is:

      Who else are you going to vote for? The KKKlown KKKar KKKandidate?

      AKA, eat your gruel and STFU.

  7. Pat

    The epitome of the acceptance of ‘Crackpot Realism’ for me is the nearly inevitable double standard. Policies that are disastrous and harmful coming from say George W. Bush’s administration are widely reported and arm chair protests (calling and writing your editors and representatives) and outrage abound. The same policies, even expanded, from Barack Obama’s administration barely get noticed or even worse are just considered ‘reality’.

    Clinton is the poster girl for that. I’m told regularly how she was such a great Secretary of State, and I look at her record there and wonder who the hell they are talking about. I see nothing there that distinguishes her from Condoleeza Rice (who is widely derided by the same people) except for Clinton’s almost unrelenting push of neoliberal free trade. I honestly wonder if her supporters could pick her Senatorial record of accomplishment (not votes what she got passed or amended) out from that of other two term Senators including Republicans.

    And speaking of that record in the Senate, that makes me wonder about how anyone who says this

    so a Democratic president will have to grind out victories of compromise in Congress and of bureaucratic mastery through executive action

    can then pick her rather than Sanders. The man’s entire Congressional Record is about using the bureaucratic levers and routes available to him to accomplish anything. If there is any Democratic primary candidate who can strategize a way to work around the opposition, it is Sanders. But that assumes a desire to get something done that the opposition isn’t also on board about, not something I expect from Clinton anyway.

    1. John Wright

      I also believe that HRC does not have a good resume’,

      Rather than being an ethical realist, HRC is more a malevolent Forrest Gump, always there when bad stuff happened. .

      She has these “accomplishments” on her record
      1. Support for NAFTA
      2. Failed health care launch
      3, Support for Iraq War
      4. Crucial support for Libya
      5. Support for the inflame Russia actions in the Ukraine.
      6. Support for Syrian action
      7. Support for TPP (now apparently withdrawn)
      8, Support for Keystone (now apparently withdrawn)
      9. About face on the bankruptcy bill that she convinced Bill Clinton to veto, but when it resurfaced while she was senator, had her support.
      10. Borderline psychopathic comment “We came, We saw, he died” about Gaddaffi. .
      11. Unquestioned support of Israel
      12. blind support for the financial industry.
      13. Foolish decision to run her own email server while SoS
      14. extreme wealth through speechifying to powerful interests.
      15. Clinton still (October 14, 2015) maintains Snowden should have been a whistle blower, when all her government experience (“realism”) and knowledge of Obama administration treatment of whistle blowers would argue this would have been a foolhardy decision for Snowden.

      Clinton did vote against Medicare Part D, which was a Republican attempt to garner elderly votes, and perhaps this was a political vote rather than a principled vote,

      I’m of the camp that one must establish stretch political goals and then compromise in the middle. HRC will “realistically” set compromised goals that will be further compromised.

      I’m rooting for a Bernie vs Donald Trump election which would propel Bernie to the White House.

      Maybe Donald can then go to C-span and liven it up.

      1. Ivy

        1. Unpacking Hillary’s Support for NAFTA: Note her time served on the Wal-Mart board of directors. She was later paroled to First Lady duties at the White House. Her venality knows no bounds.

      2. vidimi

        HRC is more a malevolent Forrest Gump, always there when bad stuff happened

        malevolent forrest gump, brilliant. the only flaw is that it absolves her of intent.

  8. Carolinian

    Hillary’s crackpot realism is the new wonk religion that replaced the old one which said things like “the poor will be with you always.” The old wine of aristocracy merely reappears in the new bottle of “meritocracy” and elite education. Our most famous university even has a “School of Government” where they teach how to rule over the masses. The Ivory Tower becomes the new priesthood with people like Krugman available to defend the catechism using the hypotheses of economics. As for HRC personally here’s Ted Rall on Hillary’s rather sheltered life

    She’s always been personally comfortable. Hillary grew up solidly middle class, never worrying where her next meal was coming from. Her family were right-wing conservatives, and so was she: in 1964, she was a fervently anti-communist “Goldwater girl.” She was named a partner of a law firm at age 32.

    As opposed to Sanders

    Sanders is a product of America’s huge, rarely discussed, working class — people one paycheck away from eviction and homelessness. Bernie’s father, a salesman who came here from Poland alone (his entire family was later wiped out by the Nazis in the Holocaust), struggled to make a living throughout his life. He and his wife, Bernie’s mom, constantly fought over (lack of) money. “There were tensions about money, which I think is important,” Sanders told me when I interviewed him for my biography, “Bernie.”

    My father used to say “nothing beats experience” and the problem with HRC is her blinkered world view that defeats a broader understanding. She even had to make up a story about being under fire in the Balkans in order to give herself some credibility as a warmonger. There is of course nothing wrong with gaining academic success in a distinguished law school but it doesn’t exactly qualify you to understand the horrors of war or the desperation of poverty. The merits of education in this case become a vast body of rationalization.

    1. Ulysses

      “The old wine of aristocracy merely reappears in the new bottle of “meritocracy” and elite education.”

      Very well said! This is more disguised here than in the U.K., but we, on this side of the pond, also suffer from the incompetence and arrogance of our own “old Etonians.”

  9. flora

    Shorter Ezra Klein : Clintonism, neoliberalism is the Dem party’s economic program. Clintonism keep losing more and more nationally. See House and Senate and governor races and statehouse races. So we need another Clintonist Dem to deal with increasing GOP numbers instead of rejecting that failed system and trying a new direction.

    1. voteforno6

      That wouldn’t be an inaccurate statement, at least for the Democratic party as it is currently constructed. The party has been held hostage to the ambitions of the Clintons for the past twenty years or so, and will not be able to move on until they finally fade away from the scene. Unfortunately, they’ve thrown around so much money to other Democrats (they didn’t keep those speaking fees all to themselves), that it might take a while for Clintonism to disappear.

  10. Merf56

    Great piece. To preface, I am a 50 something. I have double degrees in European History and Political Science and. An MA in Political Science. I worked for the State Department for a little over 10 years from the late 1970’s to late 1980’s. Right after college my husband and I were in the Peace Corps together in The Phillipines as well. . I will in modestly say I am neither stupid or uninformed regarding politics and international events.
    But I confess to having been bamboozled by Bill Clinton in the 1990’s. I can of course take the coward’s way out and place the blame on being a new mother to two and adjusting to staying at home and being very busy with husband whose international travel took him away the majority of each month as well as being an only child with widowed and chronically ill mother nearby. Too busy to sit down and carefully analyze exactly what was going on.( Also I was distracted by being so thrilled to be rid of the Reagan ‘greed is good’ era.). But there was no good excuse really – as a well educated citizen. And my voting patterns helped to bring about the pathetic excuse for a Democratic Party we have today.
    Now that the kiddies are up and out ( ha – still in grad schools!) I have the time to really think and I have done so, though sadly no longer in the educated lingo of Yves or so many brilliant informed people who post here At NC so please bear wth the following…
    I have concluded that I can no longer vote,as this article refers to it, for a lesser evil. Sanders certainly is not a perfect choice but he seems to me to be as close to the ‘real deal’ as we have seen in the Democratic Party in decades. He is addressing what I consider the most pressing issues of our time with great seriousness and practical fairly workable solutions. And to me, that ought to be the goal – not, “let’s aim low and not even attempt to solve the problem just place a few random band aids on the worst hemorrhage” that HRC seems to see as the preferred option. Our family of 5 (us, kids and a spouse) will be voting for him in the PA primary.
    And we will all do so whether or not he remains on the ballot here. If not we will write him in the primary as well as the general. I used to view this type of voting as rigid. And wrong. After all we would be helping elect the ‘other side’ by doing that. I no longer feel hat way. That frightening outcome may be the best thing, not for us of course, but in the long run for future generations. If we give the ultra right wing everything they want, history says to me, they will destroy themselves. For generations. Of course they will take us wth them…. But if the country is laid flat there may be a chance to rebuilt a better society or at the least one trying to create such with the worst bleached out for at least a period of time…. My two cents…… worth about that much as suppose…
    Sorry – conciseness is no longer a virtue I possess ….

    1. Eclair

      Well said, Merf56! I, too, am refusing to be taken in, once again, by the Democrats’ whine of “if you don’t vote for our neoliberal candidate, worse things will happen!!” I say, give us a real radical left candidate, who can address our catastrophic problems of climate change, inequality, endless war …. and I will vote for you. If not … it will be on your head if the country is captured by the ultra right wing. Enough already!

    2. GloablMisanthrope

      February 19, 2016 at 9:01 am

      My previous comments in response to your post were blisteringly incendiary (I was so angry while I was typing that I had actual tears in my eyes) and it looks like they got moderated out. But this is really important to me, so I hope moderation will let me try again.

      I’m 55 and have been politically active my whole life. I was opposed to Clinton and the direction the Dem party was taking then, as were many Dems—who the Party decided were surplus to its agenda, namely all of the Rainbow Coalition grassroots—because their policies were demonstrably racist, classist and anti-labor. We opposed NAFTA and the anti-crime measures and welfare “reform ” and the very notion of kids as “super-predators” and the Party faithful called us radicals and racists and unrealistic and dismissed our concerns on that basis.

      Instead of being able to attend college or join the Peace Corps, I had to work, as I have done since I was 13 years old, only to wind up unable to pay for our son’s undergraduate school without going into debt because, although I have worked my way up to the top of my profession (Exec Chef), that job only brings in about 50k in the market I live in and that’s for about 50 hours of work per week, by the way, with no insurance or retirement.

      While middle and upper-middle class people were raising kids, I was working about 60 hours a week as a line cook and then about 65 as a sous-chef making barely enough to support myself, let alone a family. (That’s why, even though I’m your contemporary, my kid (the one we could afford) is just now graduating from high school while yours are in graduate school.)

      But I still made time to pay attention to policy and politics, to read and to think. I was raised by working-class parents who believed that it was each our responsibility in a democracy to do so. My parents would be shocked at the suggestion that raising kids is an excuse for taking a vacation from thinking.

      Many of us uneducated working stiffs were able to see the future that was unfolding. We even saw how the policies the Clintons and the Party supported would eventually hurt the middle class. Why? Because that’s where our aspirations lay. And when we voiced our concerns within the Party we were marginalized, made pariahs of or completely shut out.

      I hope you see now that as long as there are entire classes of people who can rationalize gliding through life without considering the implications of the policies they tacitly support, nothing changes. But I also hope you appreciate that donning a hairshirt now won’t restore my family’s future and that fact made it very painful for me to read your post. Sorry, but it just feels like too little too late.

      1. RP

        Thank you. There is an entire class of professionals of a certain age (50+) who like to think of themselves as Progressives who — if they have any awareness at all — should be offering mea culpas for why they were “Good Germans” during the great Top-Down Class War of 1980-2020.

        When you’re on the bottom looking up, the view never changes.

        “So love me, love me, love me, I’m a liberal.”

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I remember vividly – these people were young then…young, enthusiastic voters, embracing the first in their class.

          Nothing wrong with being young.

          It’s not more special, not more exceptional than being old and senile, as far as living with dignity goes or casting a vote to exercise one’s civic duty.

          So, if the young have been wrong a few times before, believing – falsely, it turned out – in a new Avalon and a coming savior, perhaps this time, it’s different.

      2. Merf56

        Congratulations on your constancy. I was not apologizing in any way btw – just giving some background as to my change in opinion. You saw a mea culpa that was not there.

        You seem to have everyone all figured out on the basis of a few albeit wordy paragraphs . Good for you as I never been able to do that. It does seem however that you might possibly be hoping for is to be awarded ‘best victim status’ or something similar. I was not implying I was a victim of anything so why you chose to key on me to seemingly ‘compete with’ is a bit puzzling. You clearly feel you have some reasons to feel rightfully resentful of others but to attack me as if you know me because of a simple blog post is a step to far for me to just let stand without comment.
        I am an only child of a lower middle class family whose father died suddenly when I was 10. 18 months later my mother was confined to a wheelchair with worsening MS. We had virtually no savings and life insurance and lost our home. We lived henceforth with my aunt in her apartment – who was never married and not well off – my mother and I sharing a room and a double bed. I got my first job at 14 in a friend of my father’s restaurant busing tables every evening( that is 7 days a wk btw) I still managed to get all A’s and ended up graduating with a 4.0 and was assistant editor of my award winning HS newspaper – North Penn Senior High school. I worked my a$$ off. I was rewarded with a full merit scholarship to Penn State University including room and board for four years where I also worked in downtown State College at various jobs and paid for ALL of my incidental expenses and books. I had to – there was no money coming from a waitress aunt and an ill mother.
        My husband is older than myself and we met when both in our final year. He is one of six children of a working class family. There was zero money for college. He went to college for two terms and then took off and worked for the other two terms( we had 4 terms a year then not the two semesters and summer sessions they have now). It took him 9 years to graduate wth a degree in biochemical engineering. He slept on the floor of various friend’s apartments and often ate only one meal a day at the restaurant he worked the evening shift throughout his college days.
        For you to somehow imply I came from some high privileged background and was just diddling around instead of marching on Washington is insulting. I worked fanatically hard so I could better myself and attend college. As did my spouse. We didn’t just throw up our hands and say ” Oh well, we are working class kids and there is no money so aim guess we can’t go to college. Poor poor us. “. We MADE it happen by sheer force of will. Probably why we got together.
        When my aunt became ill with cancer and could no long help with my mother we bought a house we could adapt to Mom’s needs and her medical equipment and I stopped work immediately to care for her ( and my toddlers) full time , cutting our income over half overnight while trying to manage the expenses of our modest first house and the cost of the modifications for mom.
        I think it is commendable that you and yours were able to be so totally committed and deeply involved in politics instead of like me – being sidetracked by life. Kudos – and I mean that sincerely. I apparently just could not muster the mental energy to “do it all” as you were able to. However, I wasn’t exactly driving to the Gucci store in my Bentley or watching TV rerun marathons eating cheese doodles and I will thank you not to imply such…..

        Sent from my iPad

        1. GlobalMisanthrope

          Thank you for clarifying that you are not sorry for your support of policies that destroyed the futures of millions of Americans. My bad.

          Other than that, I can just say: What on earth?

          1. GlobalMisanthrope

            About once a quarter my rotation with my sous works its way around to my having a Friday night off. That’s tonight. So, actually, I think I’ll say more.

            I responded to your post, not to you. Or your life. Or your husband’s. Or your mother’s. My point was not to compete with you for hardship. I haven’t experienced my life as rife with hardship. I’m sorry that you have. I don’t equate hard work and life’s inevitable serving of disease and difficulty with hardship, a word you will notice I never used. I’m sorry that you do.

            I believe that my hard work should result in modest security for myself and my family. You think that I and my cooks and dishwashers are undeserving of these things because we didn’t “better” ourselves. Clear enough.

            I believe that all things being equal or un-, when we live in a democracy we have certain responsibilities. I take mine as absolutes. You think yours are optional, depending on how many other things require your attention. That’s an argument I’m willing to consider. But as an excuse for being “bamboozled” by the overtly racist, classist and anti-labor policies of Clinton & Co, I find it unpersuasive.

            Churlish as it may be of me to suggest that someone with advanced education, however strenuously earned, should be less bamboozle-able, I nevertheless maintain that it is true or what’s an education for? To inoculate you against criticism? Or is that your hardship’s role?

            I think if you took more responsibility, you would feel less defensive.

            1. Merf 56

              If this is the way you treat people it is crystal clear exactly why you have never gotten ahead and feel so angry about it. Perhaps take the giant boulder of resentment of others who have succeeded where you have failed off your shoulder……. if you can find time amidst your intense political action schedule of course……
              I further find it amusingly sad that apparently voting for Bill Clinton equates in your mind with support for Hitler…. That’s the kind of conflation which highlights a poor education and perverseness of will. Condolences.
              You seem an unhappy resentful person on whom I will spend no more time. Good day.

          2. AnEducatedFool

            I live in Merf56’s area. The majority of people will reply like her when confronted with the reality they helped to create. Based on averages I am surprised that she is not supporting Killary since she still have strong support among older women in this area.

            1. jrs

              An argument could be made for public policy being more important than career and career related education and bettering oneself that way. It’s a hard moral argument though, that might not have many converts, as likelihood of vast social reform in our lifetimes is low (higher the younger one is I guess), even though it’s desperately needed. But the likelihood of better ones own personal career situation is okay, if far from guaranteed, in what we all know is a very tough economy.

              If you have young kids though, and of course nobody has to choose to have kids, I think it’s an ENTIRELY different story. The most important duty for young kids is to raise them well, more important than politics, politics does affect the world they grow up in and will enter – immensely, but parenting does even more so. Until the kids are older and don’t need so much attention.

        2. AnEducatedFool

          I think it is commendable that you and yours were able to be so totally committed and deeply involved in politics instead of like me – being sidetracked by life. Kudos – and I mean that sincerely. I apparently just could not muster the mental energy to “do it all” as you were able to. However, I wasn’t exactly driving to the Gucci store in my Bentley or watching TV rerun marathons eating cheese doodles and I will thank you not to imply such…..

          I live around North Penn. There is a lot of money in that area enough to make someone who is in the top 10% of the US economy feel poor. If your husband has the background you write about then you were never hurting for money especially in this region.

          In my personal experience being college poor and poor with a family is not remotely similar. I do not know why you included that in your response. You were not born with a silver spoon but once you were comfortable you had no trouble turning on people who needed political help. Of course you may have never been political. A lot of people in my Int’l Affair classes were not political.

          1. Banana Breakfast

            Everyone is political (as is all art, all business, etc.). The pose of being “apolitical” is in fact the most thoroughly conservative of political positions; I don’t mean, in this case, conservative in the colloquial “what Republicans believe” sense, of course, but in the strict sense of conserving the status quo. Being “apolitical” is an option available only when the hegemonic politics of your time benefit you absolutely.

  11. Tom Stone

    I’m waiting for someone at Vox to come out with “African Americans should vote for Hillary because she has a black heart”.

    1. CraaaazyChris

      well… that was the coffee spray on screen moment of the day for me! I suppose pirates should be voting for her for precisely the same reason.

  12. jEdiJihadi

    Why is Sanders at fault on Israel? Why is Israel an issue? Why do I have to be subjected to establishment liberal anti-Semitic pulses in article about establishment politics? Why does this site need to drag itself down on a biweekly basis by reminding its readership of its disdain for the Jewish “occupation” ???

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Wow, a heated reaction from a mere aside in parentheses? Touchy aren’t we?

      It is not anti-Semitic to oppose Israel’s apartheid treatment of Palestine. Plenty of young Jews in the US are opposed too. I see it did not occur to you that the author of the post is Jewish.

      I’m sick of this “anti-Semitism” special pleading to silence criticism of ongoing human rights violations.

      Having said that, I agree that the attacks on Sanders over the Middle Eaast are overdone. His voting record is far better than that of the overwhelming majority of Democrats.

      1. Optimader

        Ill add not just young Jews, and not just in US

        The one thing jedi got correct is that it is an occupation. As a minimum a financial remedy was never even.provided for confiscated land.

      2. Marie Parham

        Not only is the 24 year old author of the post Jewish, he has a strong Jewish Identity and identifies with his Jewish Labor Bund grandparents. He cares about people. He cares about humanity. I am his mother and I raised him to never accept anything at face value, to always question everything and everyone including me.
        By the way, the phrase, “Jewish Occupation” is very offensive. There is nothing Jewish about the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the siege of Gaza.

        1. Banana Breakfast

          The conflation of “Jews” and “Israel” (and the error of discussing “Jews” as a coherent unit of analysis in the first place) is perhaps understandable, but definitely poisonous. Talking about “Jews” and “Jewish” actions or qualities is a classically racist framework, in which the essential “Jewishness” of the people being discussed determines their actions (and of course that essentially “Jewishness” is inevitably the sneaky, conniving, ratlike intruder “Jewishness” that has characterized anti-Semitic propaganda for centuries). Israel is a Euro-American colonial state, albeit perhaps the oddest colony in its demographic and political character in history. Making opposition to Israeli policy a matter of anti-Semitism rather than anti-colonialism is ceding the terms of the debate to the Israeli right (and, oddly enough, the anti-Semites who share their worldview in obverse), and letting them define what it is to be a Jew in terms of support for their politics.

  13. Pespi

    The problem with the deprecation of philosophy in America is that people fail to see beyond their frames. They fail to imagine that other frames even exist. Teach children Agamben, teach adults Hegel.

  14. alex morfesis

    Happy little slaves
    Happy little slaves
    Happy little slaves we be

    Forgive us oh fearless leader for allowing our minds to wander into things we have not been prepared for

    Ours is not to question but only to submit and sing praises to having chosen my daughters for service as temple virgins

    for you

    oh great fearless leader

    have honored my family by choosing us for your debauchery

    We thank you and sing praises that the holy of hollies has allowed this great land to be drenched in the blood of your reign.

  15. RUKidding

    A lot of Clinton’s campaign is about dissing the Millenials from where I sit. It’s the whole thing of the putrid display by Madeline Albright (whom I cannot stand anyway – war monger extrodinnaire that she is) and the dog help me Gloria Steinem that was so arrogantly condescending and utterly WRONG and just incredibly stupid. GAH. Way to go to promote old school feminism… NOT. Shudderingly embarrassing and a real blow to the entire old school feminist movement from the ’70s. Way to go, gals.

    Now this kind of dissing the young bc how could they possibly know what they’re talking about and their stooopit “opinions” have no value.

    Sheesh. I’m a boomer, and I feel like I’ve walked into a time warp, and I’m listening to MY rightwing “greatest” generation parents lecturing ME once again about how I’m “too young” to “get it,” and so I must vote the way THEY say.

    Egad. I just cringe even writing this. Shows how utterly smugly self-satisfied Clinton and her FanGrrrrls are and shatteringly out of touch they are. They are simply the not totally out there batshit crazed version of rightwing NeoCon/NeoLibs. What you get with Clinton is someone who *may* – if it suits her – attempt to “do something” for women, but don’t count on it, if her corporate masters don’t want her to.

    I’ll stop ranting but it’s freaking embarrassing to me to witness Clinton these days. And frankly, it’s nothing more or nothing less than being asked to vote for Margaret Thatcher just bc lady parts… and we all know what happened with Thatcher.

    Vagina does NOT automatically equate to “good” politician for the proles.

    1. washunate

      Agreed, I think the intergenerational disconnect between the Democratic power structure and a typical Millennial is one of those underlying social issues that doesn’t get enough attention. Dissing millennials doesn’t work so well now that they’re old enough to vote and want jobs that aren’t crappy and are supposed to be buying your house you want to sell and taking out loans for cars because apparently pollution-emitting money pits are Good for the Economy and all that stuff.

      The notion that millennials might actually want a different world than the liberal pundit class has offered over the past couple decades has really gotten under their skin in a way that has been very enjoyable to watch.

      1. Banana Breakfast

        The “liberal pundit class” as you put it – that nebulously defined but recognizable upper middle class to wealthy, socially liberal stratum that forms the backbone of the Third Way – assumes that their motivations are universal. They sought to coopt the centre left parties of the US and Britain (and eventually elsewhere) for personal gain, to minimize the social guilt of financial success by deracializing and desexing exploitation. That the children of those they exploited don’t see them as aspirational figures to be emulated, but as the destroyers of their families, communities, and futures, is utterly unimaginable.

        I’m 30, and I work and interact with a lot of people in the 18-30 age bracket. Most of those I talk to don’t have a sophisticated, well researched understanding of neoliberalism, the Third Way, offshoring and deindustrialization, the shift from wage funded consumption to debt funded consumption, etc. What they have is an outlook shaped by growing up in the wreckage created by those forces, and a willingness to listen to explanations that don’t center on the failures and thefts of the poor.

        I think they probably aren’t enough to turn this election, for better or worse. A close race between Clintion and Sanders will turn on bureaucratic machinery (and corruption) and that cohort, disgusted and betrayed, will abandon the Democrats in the general. The next recession (and perhaps, with no Chinese private debt expansion waiting in the wings to bail us out, full on depression) will grind a Republican government ideologically unwilling to engage in the necessary programs to dust, though they’ll probably start a war in a failed attempt to right the ship. But in 2020, and 2024, more of those young people will be able to vote, and more of their grandparents will be dead. The best hope for the status quo might well be a Sanders presidency that fails to deliver, and discredits left thought by association.

        1. jrs

          Interesting a Sanders presidency that failed to deliver for any reason other than inability to do anything with Congress (yes I know zerO uses that excuse but let’s assume it was real, and even someone who can do nothing with congress can at least block their bad ideas.). But say it failed because Sanders sold out, I think would only further de-legitimize the political system, but I don’t see that as discrediting left movements. I think it makes movements the only option at the point.

          1. different clue

            If a President Sanders were to overtly name and shame every rejection of his every hoped-for law by saying: “Once again, Depublicrats in Congress is why we can’t have nice things”, he would at least be putting a glow-in-the-dark target on the backs of the class enemies. And if all his organizers and supporters could create a movement for their agenda which outlives and outlasts Sanders himself, then a Sanders presidency will have gotten just that much combat-for-improvement under way.

            Meanwhile, a President Sanders would reject every Free Trade Agreement that reaches him. A President Trump might reject them or might not. He seems too unsophisticated and yokelish to me to understand the implications of Free Trade Agreements beyond just being a good or bad deal. A President Clinton would sign every Free Trade Agreement which reaches her.

            Sanders versus Trump? I vote Sanders. Clinton versus Trump?
            I think I would vote Trump. Clinton versus brand name Republican? Now . . . that would be a painful choice.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          It could be that it does not succeed on first (genuine) try, but try, try again.

          And eventually, one will deliver.

          But because nature is cruel, or rather, not a human, so she couldn’t care less (a human projection), nothing says we will get what we want NOW.

          So, it’s back to try, try again.

        3. RP

          Sometimes I feel bad for thinking about how your scenario — more young people who grew up in the mess coming on-line, more old people dying off — is the only way we’ll get any kind of real progressive change.

          Then I listen to Reagan talking about welfare queens, HW Bush talking about Willie Horton, Bill & Hillary wanting to bring Super-Predators to heel whilst unwinding the New Deal, W starting 2 wars on false pretenses whilst torturing people en masse, and Obama continuing all of the above save the race-baiting, and I remember that in a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.

          A pox on all your houses. Feel the Bern, assholes.

    2. RP

      Boomers will never understand the contempt the 35-and-under set has for them.

      How could they? It would require them attempting to think about things from a point of view not their own.

      1. Skippy

        Boomer meme alert – !!!!!!!! – deduction of intellectual merit points…

        Skippy…. huge age cohorts spread across equality huge regional locations do not have agency… unless you pin it on them….

      2. different clue

        I agree with Skippy. “Boomer” is a CFP MSM hate-meme propagated by upper middleclass reporters to get readers to confuse “boomer” with “yuppie”. After all, long-disemployed steelworkers and autoworkers and aging Vietnam Veterans are “Boomers” and what exactly would you like to blame them for?

  16. Charles Myers

    This is Hillary’s problem.

    On the issues a President could have the most effect on she is on the wrong side.

    War. Wallstreet. NSA. Patriot Act. Use of drones.

    She can only run against Bernie’s free stuff.

    Funny how no one thinks War etc. is free stuff also.

    1. Pavel


      As others have noted, people (e.g. Hillary) ask Bernie, “How are you going to pay for single-payer and free tuition?” but those same people never seem to ask “How are we going to pay for Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and all those other ‘interventions’?” that are off the main defence budget and essentially put on our children’s and grandchildren’s credit cards.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Ok just a comment to say that we are falling into the analysis/reasonableness trap that actual progressives and the non-Vichy Left always fall into. The trap is that policy options must be rationally considered and compared and dispassionate “reasonable” arguments must be made that represent the right eventual “middle of the road” outcome.

        The Other Side however understand raw power: did they construct and debate “reasonable middle of the road policies” when they decided to slaughter millions and waste trillions in all-out MidEast War? When they decided to loot the middle class via Wall Street? No, they were hysterical and fear mongering and lied and cheated and stole and broke laws left and right to get their way.

        The pendulum between Capital and Labor right now is pegged over on the Capital side. Constructing “please sir, may I have some more?” arguments is woefully inadequate, we must push against the pendulum with everything we’ve got. This means pushing for outcomes that are WAY in excess of what we really want and need. Want to stop a war? Demand an end to ALL war. Want to restore a semblance financial equity? Push to jail ALL bank criminals. Want affordable health care? Push for FREE health care. Otherwise it’s just a lite version of Hilary’s toxic “nah we can’t get there, it’s unrealistic” gradualism and defeatism.

  17. washunate

    Great read. FWIW, I’m so out of it I actually had to look up Vox to see what it is. Apparently I haven’t kept up with the pundit factory. Fun factoid from Wikipedia, one of the original founders was the same guy that founded Daily Kos.

    And like most things in our media over the past couple decades, the sports journalism is better than the politics journalism.

    1. different clue

      Most of the political journalism is in fact political sports journalism and political sports analysis. Some here and there is actual policy and actions reporting.

    1. Nathan Tankus

      yeah I caught that later but didn’t want multiple drafts floating around with minute changes.

  18. optimader

    I’ll be seeing Mud this evening, I am going to suggest he offer this to HRC as a campaign theme song!
    Mud Morganfield – You Can’t Lose What You Ain’t Never Had

    Gotta love the ambiguity of a triple negative. Perfect for Hillary, it has plausible deniability written all over it.

    Ok, after this gets released from the Skynet dog pound , you’all can enjoy this too!
    Mud Morganfield – Son of the seventh son

  19. schultzzz

    re: hillary’s campaign dumping on youngs: She’s not the only one. There’s one other pol this cycle that took the time to dump on young people in a national debate. Give you a hint: Huckabee.

    But unlike Clinton, he didn’t expect insulting them to change their minds – it looked like he was simply pandering to his base of olds.

    But the WAY he dissed them was absolutely classic: “You want free schools? And free marijuanas? And free this and free that – In my administration you’d have to earn it by joining the Army!”


    (their campaign theme song could be the tolerable NOFX song “F__K THE KIDS” – which is great because it’s only 30 seconds long, you wouldn’t have to edit it to fit into a commercial!)

    PS Huckabee closed out that same debate with a weepy-eyed plea to start more wars in the middle east “For our children and grand-children!” (the lazy selfish ones he’s sending off to get blown up in exchange for free marijuanas)

    Christ, I miss him.

    1. RP

      I advocate for a moratorium on presidents from Texas for 50 years.

      I advocate even more for a moratorium on *candidates* from Arkansas.

      Next time the South wants to secede, I say we let ’em go.

        1. John Wright

          I remember reading that cotton was the oil of the day during the early part of the 19th century.

          Here is a quote from Walter E. Williams, Economics professor at George Mason University.

          “Throughout most of our nation’s history, the only sources of federal revenue were
          excise taxes and tariffs. During the 1850s, tariffs amounted to 90 percent of federal revenue. Southern ports paid 75 percent of tariffs in 1859. What “responsible” politician would let that much revenue go?”

          So the South provided 0.9 x 0.75 or 67.5% of Federal revenue.

          A lot of lives would have been saved if Lincoln had simply said “good riddance” but there was a financial reason to preserve the union.

          Judging from other countries, slavery would have disappeared eventually with industrialization.

          Possibly Lincoln was an early manifestation of neo-liberal thinking and not the noble emancipator on the USA $5 bill?

          1. nobody

            The railroads were the oil industry of the day in the middle part of the 19th century. Guess which president rode those corporate rails en route to a final destination in the White House.

            “[T]here’s a reason the railroads feature so prominently in the ever-popular board game Monopoly… The railroads were America’s first big business. The industry led to the growth of Wall Street, which needed to handle the enormous amounts of capital required to build and operate the lines. As they grew more powerful, the railroad companies began to squeeze out competitors and charge outrageous prices. Farmers were held hostage to railways that refused to move their goods unless they paid what was demanded. Because of their wealth, railroad barons could afford to buy and rent politicians in Washington.

            “Nineteenth- and early 20th-century cartoonists depicted the monopoly threat in the form of a gigantic octopus, its tentacles reaching into every nook and cranny of the country. America, for a long time, was held in a stranglehold by the railroad monopoly.”


            1. Banana Breakfast

              Remember that one of the Ocala Demands, alongside expansion of the money supply by unlimited silver coinage (explicitly to cause inflation and devalue debts), was regulation or nationalization of the railroads. The agrarian populists of the late 19th century were extraordinarily similar to progressive/populists today, in a lot of ways.

  20. Darthbobber

    “Crackpot realism” is one of my three favorite C. Wright Mills coinages. The other two being “the higher immorality” and “system of organized irresponsibility.” They have, regrettably, all gained rather than lost relevance with the passage of time.

  21. TG

    Well said.

    I would suggest, however, that instead of ‘crackpot realism’, maybe ‘Potemkin Liberalism’? For me at least the thing with Clinton’s words are not any sort of logical flaw in her thinking or worldview, but that they are just words. It’s a facade, and the thing about a facade is that it is functionally irrelevant.

  22. MaroonBulldog

    “False consciousness” denotes the state of mind of those who identify their own interests with the interests of a class to which they do not belong. This appears to me to be the state of mind of the liberal pundits who defend Hillary at every turn. To these sadly deluded persons, I can only aver that the Clintons are in a class entirely by themselves.

  23. hyperpolarizer

    For what it’s worth, the rethugs would sooner run against Bernie than against Hillary, which explains why they are ratfucking on his behalf in Nevada.

    I have been watching US politics a long while (I voted for McGovern in ’72) and am perfectly convinced that a self declared socialist cannot win the US presidency. You can’t imagine what Bernie would look like after the the rethug attack machine got through with him.

    Hillary, on the other hand, despite her flaws, would mop the floor with any of the ‘thug contenders, including Trump. Imagine them debating foreign policy: the empty blowhard vs. the woman who has been there. (For the record, I am, in fact, almost 100% opposed to her actions as Secretary of State– although she was acting for Obama, yet I’m not sure she’d have done differently if on her own.)

    As I said, I support her despite her flaws.

    Again, FWIW, as an older professional (an engineer) I am intensely aware of the harm done to American workers — and American engineering, not to mention American companies– by outsourcing and offshoring. There seems to be a vibe around here that older Hillary supporters approve of those things. What fucking bullshit….

    1. John Wright

      You wrote: “as an older professional (an engineer) I am intensely aware of the harm done to American workers — and American engineering, not to mention American companies– by outsourcing and offshoring. There seems to be a vibe around here that older Hillary supporters approve of those things. What fucking bullshit”

      I am also an older engineer and have seen the damage to blue collar jobs as manufacturing has moved to Asia, supposedly to be replaced with high earning STEM jobs, as is obvious to anyone who reads (and believes) Tom Friedman..

      But, if one goes to the US labor department and looks at the government projections for engineering jobs, you will find many engineering jobs with a 10 year growth rate of less than average.

      In fact, the employment of electrical and electronic engineers, a topic of some interest to me, is expected to actually shrink over the next 10 years.

      You state “by outsourcing and offshoring. There seems to be a vibe around here that older Hillary supporters approve of those things.”

      Many US families have hurt by outsourcing/offshoring, so it is very likely older Hillary supporters do not support these actions.

      However, I believe HRC does, de-facto, “approve of those things.”

      If the eventual Republican candidate proves to be far more difficult to predict in their presidential economic policy actions than HRC, the elite of both parties will converge and support the “bought and paid for, known quantity” HRC if she is the eventual choice

      HRC will not rock the sinking boat.

      Bernie might actually do something.

      1. hyperpolarizer

        I get that the mainstream in both parties — including the present POTUS– favor outsourcing and offshoring; and of course I get that in 1992 Ross Perot was the only one who got it right about NAFTA.

        Much of my point, however, is that a self declared socialist –Bernie– cannot win the presidency. I’ll take Hillary any day over any of the rethugs out there.

    2. Banana Breakfast

      Oh I don’t think that older voters (to the limited extent I’m comfortable characterizing broadly by age) APPROVE of offshoring, for one example, but the core of Hillary’s support, and the core of the Democratic bureaucracy, comes from a managerial class that has not only not seen their jobs offshored, but have benefited from the shift to trans-national production. I won’t get this post caught up in the robo-moderator by sticking in a link, but you can find piles of studies that show that the benefit of offshoring isn’t cost savings per se – they are generally small or even nonexistent – but the redistribution of payments from workers to the increased number of educated, office working managers needed to oversee the increased complications of the projects.

      It’s no surprise that income was just as good a predictor of voting preference in the New Hampshire primary as age. Working conditions, funding, etc have absolutely been crapified in e.g. engineering (perhaps more there than in most professional fields, even, save the academy and others that are being deprofessionalized), but while you may be AWARE of the damage done to workers, and by extension working class communities, that is obviously not the same thing as believing for yourself, your family, and your community there is no hope for a recovery of living conditions under Clinton. There is nothing but more temp jobs, more unemployment, more petty crime, and more drug overdoses. Reagan and Clinton the First didn’t declare war on YOU. But we’ve been suffering casualties for a long time now, and it’s only getting worse. Her “flaws” are direct, brutal attacks on the lives of a whole class of people, and what we need is not your “disapproval”.

  24. Waking Up

    Many of the people 65 or older who prefer Hillary because they are afraid of anything related to “socialist” really need to take a moment to understand what a “Democratic Socialist” is as Senator Bernie Sanders describes himself. Here is a definition as provided by the Young Democratic Socialists of America: “Democratic socialists believe that both the economy and society should be run democratically—to meet public needs, not to make profits for a few. To achieve a more just society, many structures of our government and economy must be radically transformed through greater economic and social democracy so that ordinary Americans can participate in the many decisions that affect our lives. Democracy and socialism go hand in hand. All over the world, wherever the idea of democracy has taken root, the vision of socialism has taken root as well—everywhere but in the United States. Because of this, many false ideas about socialism have developed in the US.”

  25. Merf56

    NC please remove all of my comments on this thread if you are going to allow me to be attacked by a poster multiple times for a fairly benign and honest post but when I post a final response with no foul language or issues you refuse to post.
    Thank you for doing this as soon as possible. I will not post on this site ever again.
    You can all enjoy your rigid and nasty firing squad approach to people who try and give an honest personal thought. Good day.

    1. Steve H.

      There probably was not a refusal to post by the NC individuals, the filter is notorious. I’ve got a comment hung up today, and I try to use workarounds.

      I thought your intent to post was benign and honest. I think we’re born ignorant, that there are active agents trying to keep us that way, and that places like NC are the cracks that let in the light.

      Occasionally posters live up to their handles. This is not a heavily moderated site. I hope you’ll still find value in it.

    2. Nathan Tankus

      If you want great moderation tailored to your personal needs, donate money to that effect and it will be accomplished. This site is run on a shoestring with a very overworked Yves and I’ll ask you to lay off until you start coughing up dough.

    3. Waking Up

      I am sorry to see that you no longer want to post at NC. Your post made some valid points.

      I believe when posters express their personal life experiences and beliefs it helps us to understand where they are coming from (whether we agree with their opinions or not). Having said that, I think there have been a whole lot of people who were “asleep at the wheel” for decades now. We can’t change that past, but, hopefully we can make a better future. I also agree with GlobalMisanthrope that we ALL should be politically active in this country, not just in bad times but also in good times. Maybe going forward parents can teach their children to be participatory citizens and the adults can stay engaged throughout their lifetime.

  26. tongorad

    “When I got near
    all I saw was fear.”
    -Tommy Hall, 13th Floor Elevators

    Methinks fear is what undergirds most of crackpot realism – fear over loss of privilege.

  27. Soulipsis

    “realism is just a code word for “shut up, sit down and be quiet”.”


    also 2 words “are over” seem to be missing here:

    “and now that both the war and the great financial crisis ___ ____ [Krugman] can finally return “

  28. P. Greenberg

    Important insight into Krugman:

    In 1998, Krugman published a piece in Slate castigating Al Gore for not listening to the “right” scientists and economists. He implied that Gore was unqualified to be president because he hadn’t accepted Robert Rubin as his economic authority.
    Here is the Quote:

    “Perhaps the best way to think about Gore the thinker is to contrast him with Clinton …Clinton, before Bob Rubin took him in hand, was a rather credulous consumer of pop economics”.

  29. Paul Hirschman

    Put very nicely. C Wright Mills would be happy to know someone still reads his stuff.

    Also recall the California Minister who said, when asked in 1934 how he could vote for Upton Sinclair in the CA gubernatorial election, “I’d rather vote for something I want and not get it, then vote for something I don’t want and get plenty of it.”

    The DLC is the emphysema of American politics.

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