Hillary Is a High-Ranking Member of the DC Power Elite — and That's Why She Can't Comprehend Bernie’s Revolution
Let me figure this out. Last year, the Clintons couldn’t believe their good fortune. They were going to face a “democratic socialist” from the marginal state of Vermont and cruise to victory. It would be a romp, with Hillary winning the primaries and then going full mainstream against a reactionary, out of touch Republican opponent on the way to the White House.
As many commentators are saying now, a serious miscalculation was at the heart of Hillary’s plan. Clinton, Cruz, Bush, Rubio and others are all part of the wealthy elite. Although Trump is as well, he is channeling the anger of the working class American. Bernie Sanders also gets it. He knows what happened to the American dream.
Hillary Clinton thinks, in her gut, that America is a prosperous country, and that the policies that led to our prosperity should simply be continued, that they work. But this hasn’t been true since the 1970’s, back when America was the world’s economic powerhouse, with a manufacturing base that was the envy of the world, highly paid unionized workers and a booming housing market.
The American dream started coming off the rails with the election of Ronald Reagan who, as David Stockman noted in his book, The Triumph of Politics, was duped into giving away the store to the military industrial complex. Defense spending soared into the stratosphere, and the “deep state” — which is what writer Mike Lofgren calls the alliance between the defense industry, politicians and Wall Street — began playing a larger and larger role in government. 9/11 sealed the deal, as the national security establishment — what Stockman calls “the war party” — consolidated its power and influence, setting the stage for the global surveillance state.
The deep state has another aspect: It bleeds the American taxpayer, taking money to be “the world’s policeman” and enriching contractors, politicians, Wall Street and the arms industry, while the people get little in return (unless they happen to be working for those same companies.) All of the candidates for president are clients of the deep state and deeply beholden to it — except for Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump.
Bernie has been an unsparing critic of the “deep state.” His angry exchange with Alan Greenspan on the floor of Congress left the former Fed Chairman with a bemused expression, as if he were considering an unsuitable visitor to a gated community.
Going hand in hand with the deep state, what Bill Clinton and George Bush enabled was the “financialization” of everything. Regulations on banks came off, credit card interest rates were free to soar, and the American public was sold on investing in an ever-expanding housing market. Private prisons multiplied, payday loan companies and fraudulent colleges like the University of Phoenix sprang up. Vulture capitalism spread its wings. This whole infrastructure of greed is deeply tied into the political establishment, which is why even today, Hillary won’t attack the pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies, the prison industry, big oil, the pay day loan industry and the rest, head-on.
The elite — Hillary, Bush and the rest — have no understanding at all how it really is to be part of a growing American underclass (25 million and counting) that has seen their good jobs disappear with the global trade agreements, the war against unions and governments’ blind eye to companies stashing their profits overseas to avoid paying taxes.
Bernie’s declarations that health care and education should be free — that they are public goods, and should not be for profit — fly in the face of what the elites have bought into. When he sued in Vermont Supreme Court to acquire waterfront land from a railway to create a public waterfront park on Lake Champlain, it was in the tradition of creating a public benefit for the people, not for profit. It’s time for government to serve the people, he says — but the deep state only knows serving itself.
The American Dream is sliding off the cliff, and Hillary is still talking about women’s empowerment — the cry that was fresh when I got to college 40 years ago. She offers the deep state — the rigged economy — to voters, and she doesn’t understand that the mask is off. The prosperity that she experiences every day is not something most Americans can relate to. The prosperity that used to sustain America because of our manufacturing base and global economic reach — that used to benefit the many — has now devolved into a rapacious capitalism that feeds on the people — and the people are ready for a political revolution.Related Stories
Outrage Grows Over Viral NYT Video Showing Charter School Teacher Yelling at, Berating First Grade Students
A report in the New York Times Friday showing a Success Academy teacher in Brooklyn berating students has gone viral, sparking outrage from parents, anti-reform activists, and education experts. The teacher in question, Charlotte Dial, who is white is seen in the minute-and-a-half clip dressing down in harsh tones a room full of first grade children, most of whom are black and hispanic.
The video was recording by an assistant teacher at Success Academy who did so fearing Ms. Dial’s tactics had gone too far. Upon being shown the video in November of last year by The Times, Success Academy quickly suspended Ms. Dial only to be reinstated a week and a half later.
Success academy CEO Eva S. Moskowitz, a powerful, well-connected charter school advocate in her own right, insisted to The Times that the incident was “an anomaly.”
The response has been a mixture of tepid defense and outrage. Letters to the editor of the times flooded in, so much so they dedicated an entire article to the public’s reaction. Noel Scott Anderson, Ph.D. Clinical professor and director of educational leadership at New York University, told The Times, “teaching a young person through fear and intimidation never works. A young person may comply but they will never truly learn,” and Carmen S. Brown, assistant professor of early childhood education at Hunter College, said, “Creating an atmosphere that develops a love of learning in a positive, nurturing and supportive environment optimizes learning opportunities for children. Teaching through fear and intimidation can diminish the enthusiasm, motivation and eagerness that is fundamental and foundational to learning.” One high school English teacher wrote in, “It is possible to hold students to a high standard without being abusive.”
What’s at stake here is whether the “results-driven” teach-to-the-test approach favored by corporate education advocates like Ms. Moskowitz is conducive to actual learning - to say nothing of the emotional well being of children. Over at Slate, Michelle Goldberg makes another, overlooked point: this type of harsh approach is advocated by billionaire charter school backers for other children, namely poor children, but not their own:
Perhaps my horror at Success Academy’s methods might strike these parents as a form of elitism. Still, one thing seems to be undeniable:The schools in my neighborhood teach some children to challenge authority, and others to submit to it.
The class and racial angle goes largely glossed over in The New Times’ (exceedingly fair) reporting but it’s one worth nothing. Charter schools are boosted by billionaires and their pro-corporate education confederates, but rarely do they send their own children there and subject them to this type of martial learning environment.
The Times has been something of a thorn in Success Academy’s side, publishing multiple stories documenting their severe teaching tactics, most notably a scathing expose in April 2015 documenting years of “polarizing tactics” including humiliating students and 11-hour teacher work days.
According to The Times latest piece, one teacher, who came out of Teach for America, the non-union teaching organization with ties to privatization groups, was so upset by what he saw it brought him to tears. “I would cry almost every night thinking about the way I was treating these kids,”Jasmine Araujo told The Times, “and thinking that that’s not the kind of teacher I wanted to be.”
Other reactions have been more defensive. “I’d like to see all of you filmed at your worst, weakest moment and put on the cover of The New York Times with no context, and see how all of you would fare," one reader wrote. “This pales in comparison to what the nuns did to us in the 1960s. And we all came out fine. Stop the nonsense.” wrote a Brooklyn attorney.
Eva Moskowitz, for her part, has gone on the offensive, framing The Times story as war against teachers -- rather than Success Academy’s tactics and the broader culture of teaching to the test -- tweeting out. “Charlotte made a mistake. I don't condone what was in the video. Charlotte doesn't condone what was in that video. #StopBashingTeachers."Related Stories
When they debate, the Senator from Vermont usually refers to the former secretary of state as his "friend" -- not in the Congressional-speech sense of someone that he actually despises, but in what is presumably his deeply authentic, Brooklyn-born candor. He speaks frequently of his "great respect" for Clinton. And he has said more than once that "on her worst day" she would be a far better president than any of the potential Republican candidates "on their best day."
Even more often, however, Sanders suggests that Clinton has sold out to the financial industry for campaign contributions, or for donations to her super PAC, or perhaps for those big speaking fees she has pocketed since leaving the State Department. Certainly, he has fostered that impression among his supporters, who excoriate Clinton in the most uninhibited and sometimes obscene terms on social media.
But if Sanders believes that Hillary Clinton is "bought" -- as his legions to shrilly insist -- then how can he say, "in all sincerity," that she is his respected friend?
To date, his criticism of Clinton on this point is inferential, not specific. He hasn't pointed to any particular vote or action that proves her alleged subservience to the financial titans she once represented as the junior senator from New York. As Sanders knows, Clinton's actual record on such issues as the Dodd-Frank financial regulation bill and the Consumer Financial Protection Board ran opposite to the banksters.
Back in 2007, eight years before she could ever imagine facing the socialist senator in debate, she spoke up against the special "carried interest" tax breaks enjoyed by hedge-fund managers. Her proposals to regulate banks more strictly have won praise not only from New York Times columnist and Nobel economist Paul Krugman, but from Senator Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., the populist Pasionaria, as well.
Still, to Sanders the mere act of accepting money from the financial industry, or any corporate interest, is a marker of compromise -- or worse. Why do the banks spend millions on lobbying, he thunders, unless they get something in return? The answer is that they want access, and they often donate even to politicians who don't fulfill their wishes.
Meanwhile, Sanders doesn't apply his stringent integrity test to contributions from unions. This is a category of donation he accepts despite labor's pursuit of special-interest legislation -- and despite the troubling fact that the labor movement openly supports the Citizens United decision, which expanded their freedom to offer big donations to politicians.
By his standard, Sanders shouldn't take union money because the AFL-CIO opposes campaign finance reform, which he vociferously supports. Perhaps we shouldn't believe that he truly supports campaign finance reform, because he has accepted so much money from unions.
Such assumptions would be ridiculous, of course -- just as ridiculous as assuming that Clinton's acceptance of money from banking or labor interests, both of which have made substantial donations to her campaign, proves her advocacy of reform is insincere.
But political history is more complex than journalistic melodrama. If critics arraign Clinton for the decision by her husband's administration to kill regulation of derivatives trading, it is worth recalling that she was responsible for the appointment of the only official who opposed that fateful mistake. She had nothing to do with deregulation, but as first lady, she strongly advocated on behalf of Brooksley Born, a close friend of hers named by her husband to chair the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. As one of the few heroes of the financial crisis, Born presciently warned about the dangers of unregulated derivatives.
So it is fine to criticize Clinton's speaking fees from banks and other special interests, which create a troubling appearance that she should have anticipated. It is fine to complain that politicians are too dependent on big-money donors. And it is fine to push her hard on the issues that define the Sanders campaign, which has done a great service by highlighting the political and economic domination of the billionaire elite.
But it is wrong to accuse Clinton of "pay for play" when the available evidence doesn't support that accusation. And if Sanders wants to hold her to a standard of absolute purity, he should apply that same measure to himself.Related Stories
Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren has asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to consider the role legal marijuana could play in the prescription opioid epidemic.
Warren asked for more research into medical marijuana and painkiller addiction in a letter to the CDC director, Thomas Friedan.
“Opioid abuse is a national concern and warrants swift and immediate action,” Warren wrote.
Her request comes as politicians, including the presidential nominees, search for the best response to the opioid epidemic.
The use of prescription opioids doubled between 2000 and 2014, according to the CDC. And Massachusetts experienced its highest number of unintentional opioid overdose deaths in 2014, with nearly 1,100 people succumbing to overdose deaths.
Warren applauded the CDC’s actions so far to curb the epidemic but called on the agency to look at whether medical marijuana could be an alternative painkiller.
She also urged the agency to quickly finalize its guidelines for prescribing opioids for chronic pain and called for increased collaboration between the CDC and other federal health agencies to determine the long-term effects of opioid use in children and the increased use of the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl.
Nestled in with these recommendations is a call to consider the role of marijuana legalization in the crisis.
Specifically, Warren requested the agency to provide more information on “the use, uptake and effectiveness of medical marijuana as an alternative to opioids for pain treatment in states where it is legal”.
She also asked them to look into “the impact of the legalization of medical and recreational marijuana on opioid overdose deaths”.
Medical marijuana is illegal under federal law, which is a significant hurdle for any federal agency hoping to study its effects, and makes it impossible to prescribe through a pharmacist.
But using the plant for some medical purposes is legal in 23 states, including Massachusetts, plus Washington DC. Marijuana is also legal for recreational use in Colorado, Washington state, Oregon and Alaska.
Medical cannabis laws were tied with lower state-level opioid overdose death rates, according to a study published in the December 2014 issue of Journal of the American Medical Association. And hundreds of people in Massachusetts who are addicted to opioids are being treated with medical marijuana.
A Portland man is being held on suspicion of murdering an elderly Muslim man with a shovel, the Oregonian reports.
Michael Troxell, 27, is being held without bail on suspicion of using homicidal violence against Abdul Jamil Kamawal, 68. Police responded to a 911 call of a man being attacked with a shovel, and when they arrived found Kamawal covered in straw. He died soon after from his injuries.
Authorities have yet to pinpoint the cause of death but arrested Troxell shortly after finding Kamawal, KATU reports. He is being held without bail at Washington County Jail, facing murder charges.Troxell and Kamawal didn’t know each other, but Troxell was doing construction work on Kamawal’s property, police told reporters.
Kamawal is meantime being remembered as a “pillar” of the local Muslim community, KGW reports. While friends and family were too grief-stricken to talk on camera, they told KGW he was “the type of person you could ask for anything.”
Kamawal was a retired 22-year survey technician for Washington County and worked to help refugees settle in the Portland area. He founded two non-profit organizations to help people from his native Afghanistan.
In response to Kamawal’s murder, his former employer, the Washington County Department of Land Use and Transportation, released this statement, as reported by KGW.
“He often went back to Afghanistan help rebuild his home village of Kama, and he founded two non-profit organizations – the Afghan Aid Association and the Oregon-based Kama Relief Corp. Both organizations are dedicated to rebuilding lives and communities in Afghanistan. Employees are speaking about how kind Jamil was; former coworkers have said that working with Jamil made them better, kinder people.”
Watch the report, from KGW, here:Related Stories
In the last four decades, four out of seven Republican candidates who won Iowa, went on to lose the GOP nomination. The state most likely to show a clear nominee is actually South Carolina.
Culturally, Iowa tends to go more evangelical and social-conservative, while New Hampshire tends to go more central, liberalist Republican. South Carolina brings them all together — mainly due to greater wealth disparity than other swing states. Iowa and New Hampshire narrows the field and the nominee then comes out of South Carolina.
New Hampshire winner Donald Trump spent less time in New Hampshire than all other candidates and is the predicted winner in South Carolina by at least five points. So, depending on your perspective, that's either worrisome, or good news.Watch: political columnist Erick Erickson explain below:
Within the first dozen words of Chris Hedges’ recent article on liberal Protestants we learn both that its institutions are “demonic” (bad!) and that it is committing “suicide” (also bad, or at least lamentable).
It is not clear whether both things can be true at once—can it be so demonic if it is dead, and can its death be unfortunate if it is demonic? Nor do Hedges’ arguments—which start from a controversy about funding Union Theological Seminary in New York (UTS), then range widely to condemn liberal church leaders and valorize left-of-center activists—advance his agenda. Rather he offers an instructive example of an all-too-common genre: radicals who, in effect, echo right-wing talking points about the dysfunctions of the Protestant left: fomenting conflicts, exaggerating weaknesses, and presenting dilemmas in the least flattering light.
I wanted to like this article because Hedges’ good guys are about the same as mine—peace and justice activists and intellectuals with a foot in religious traditions. Appealing to Reinhold Niebuhr for authority, he presents them being driven to the margins of his demonic, and now suicidal, institutions. We agree that liberal churches include people who sell out overtly to neoliberal imperialism—Hedges calls this “Christian heresy”—or sell out covertly with rhetoric of tolerance and “tepid church piety.” Both of us would like to see more good guys; both are exasperated when existing institutions do not provide room for them to maneuver.
Unfortunately, he moves the cause backward.
Much of his article examines a decision by UTS, one of the Protestant left’s flagship institutions, to raise money by selling “airspace” above the northeastern part of its quadrangle for luxury condominiums, with the proceeds to be used largely for deferred maintenance and renovations of the rest of its property. Hedges quotes a student activist who sees this as a “middle finger” to nearby Harlem—although one wonders why the steeple of next door’s Riverside Church, other high-rises in the neighborhood, or even the surrounding Columbia University as a whole have not already nailed down this role.
The key reason UTS needs money is because of the stands, mainly commendable in Hedges’ terms, that it has taken over the years. Many of its high-rolling trustees and donors abandoned it over its social justice stands in the 1960s, and neoconservatives have been trying to shovel dirt on its grave ever since. There is nothing new about this. UTS has sold off parts of its property several times in the past to stay afloat, and Columbia University has already taken over parts of its quadrangle.
Will the current sale be enough to stop the bleeding? Maybe. This depends largely on the wider trajectories of liberal churches, as well as fine print to which Hedges and I are not privy. Is it a fatal compromise? I seriously doubt it. Is the UTS leadership perfect? Surely not, but let’s get real: perfect compared to what? Anybody appealing to Niebuhr should be smart enough to ask that question.
Hedges frames his complaint with boilerplate about numerical declines in mainstream churches. We could slow down to debate whether this is insightful, since for 150 years mainline churches have been a minority that could not credibly speak for Catholics, evangelicals, or racial minorities; and activists have long been a minority within that minority.
It is far less clear than pundits assume that its limitations are more severe today than before its struggles after 1970—although its collapsing cultural prestige is a real problem.
But rather than slow down, let’s grant a steep decline for the sake of argument. Decline to what level? Hedges notes that Catholics, who still have a 21% demographic slice, are “being decimated,” yet this is seven times more people than watched the Democratic Presidential debates. That number, combined with 36 million liberal Protestants (with “growing irrelevancy”), is just a bit below the viewership for the Super Bowl.
As to causes of decline, if we move to the margins of demonic institutions does this slow it down or speed it up? He calls for greater vitality on the left, and I agree that this is better than steering right or being tepid—but at best what has happened on this front has been a wash for liberal Protestants in institutional terms. As I’ve argued before, amid decline from birthrates, leftward moves (not least by institutions like UTS) have probably repelled roughly an equal number of people as they have attracted—and meanwhile there has been a net loss of wealthy donors and elite allies. One might expect Hedges to approach this as a trade-off. Indeed it is a sort of tradeoff for him—“a heads you win, tails we lose” variant between selling out and abandoning ship.
It is unclear how invested Hedges is in the survival of liberal institutions—but either way, it’s hard to see how his intervention is constructive. He poses a lose/lose choice: be a neoliberal tool or a lonely radical taking potshots at institutions attempting to figure out ways to thrive.
Granted, a win/win approach that maximizes the benefit of doubt in Hedges’ excluded middle ground is not more illuminating in every case. In fact, a signature problem of Protestant liberals is their tendency to hold out hope that rings false. Yet shouldn’t a flagship institution of liberation theologies get any benefit of doubt?
There is also a problem—more attuned to geeks but nevertheless galling—that the historical importance of Niebuhr was to argue against the sort of reasoning Hedges advances (mocked by Niebuhr as “purist” or “perfectionist”). This matter is complicated because Hedges is rightly accenting how pragmatic choices by institutional leaders are often dubious—yet a classic case in point is Niebuhr himself, who made pragmatic compromises that were largely commendable in the 1930s but far less so in the 1950s.
Still, the key point is straightforward if you want to think with the radical Niebuhr: keep your eyes on the prize, but be humble and realistic enough to embrace lesser evils.
Hedges and I agree that liberal churches are internally contested and that our “good guys” do not always win. We seem to disagree over whether significant institutional space is still available and what kinds of compromises are worth making to keep it. We also seem to have a different sense of whether religious contestation is somehow less important than contestation over Democratic politicians or TV programs—or than defending space in academia or journalism.
Are the choices available to the Protestant left as stark as Hedges presents them: either sell-out to “demonic” capitalist expediency or abandon the ship, and then, while bobbing in a lifeboat with other moral exemplars, jeer as it goes down? If this bleak vision accurately describes our options in some cases, so be it. It may be a place to unleash Niebuhrian realism. But does this accurately describe most cases? Why not push back against the conservative talking point that the Protestant left is dying and deserves to die sooner?
If there are both win/win and lose/lose cases to choose from, which choice is more suicidal?
At the February 11 Democratic Debate, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton had a spirited exchange about an unlikely topic: Henry Kissinger, the 92-year-old former Secretary of State. Sanders berated Clinton for saying she appreciated the foreign policy mentoring she got from Henry Kissinger. “I happen to believe,” Sanders said, “that Henry Kissinger was one of the most destructive secretaries of state in the modern history of this country.”
In one of Sanders’ rare outbursts of enmity, he added, “I am proud to say that Henry Kissinger is not my friend. I will not take advice from Henry Kissinger. And in fact, Kissinger's actions in Cambodia, when the United States bombed that country, overthrew Prince Sihanouk, created the instability for Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge to come in, who then butchered some three million innocent people, was one of the worst genocides in the history of the world. So count me in as somebody who will not be listening to Henry Kissinger.”
Clinton went on to defend Kissinger, using the example of China. “His opening up China and his ongoing relationships with the leaders of China is an incredibly useful relationship for the United States of America,” she insisted.
Sanders responded that Kissinger scared Americans about communist China, then opened up trade so U.S. corporations could dump American workers and hire exploited, repressed Chinese.
First he warned us about “the terrible, authoritarian, Communist dictatorship,” Sanders said, “now he's urging companies to shut down and move to China. Not my kind of guy.”
Now that many Americans, particularly young ones, are hearing the name of Henry Kissinger, they should learn some other reasons why Kissinger might not make a good mentor.
As Secretary of State, Kissinger facilitated the Sept. 11, 1973 coup against the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende that brought to power the ruthless Augusto Pinochet in Chile. As some 5,000 people were being detained and tortured in Chile’s National Stadium, Kissinger told Pinochet, "You did a great service to the West in overthrowing Allende." The Pinochet dictatorship, which lasted for two decades, left over 3,000 people dead or missing, thousands tortured and hundreds of thousands driven into exile.
Kissinger also had a role in the brutal 1975 Indonesian invasion of East Timor, which took place just hours after Kissinger and President Ford visited Indonesia. They had given the Indonesian strongman the green light—and the weapons—for an invasion that led to a 25-year occupation in which over 100,000 soldiers and civilians were killed or starved to death. The UN's Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation in East Timor stated that U.S. "political and military support were fundamental to the Indonesian invasion and occupation" of East Timor.
The report by the UN Commission on Human Rights describes the horrific consequences of that invasion. It includes gang rape of female detainees following periods of prolonged sexual torture; placing women in tanks of water for prolonged periods, including submerging their heads, before being raped; the use of snakes to instill terror during sexual torture; and the mutilation of women, including insertion of batteries into vaginas and burning nipples and genitals with cigarettes.
From 1969 through 1973, Kissinger, along with President Nixon, oversaw the slaughter in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, killing perhaps one million during this period. He gave the order for the secret bombing of Cambodia. Kissinger is on tape saying, “[Nixon] wants a massive bombing campaign in Cambodia. He doesn't want to hear anything about it. It's an order, to be done. Anything that flies or anything that moves.”
In 2001, the French judge Roger Le Loire issued a warrant to have Kissinger appear before his court to account for his actions. When Kissinger received the summons at the Ritz Hotel in Paris, he fled the country. More indictments followed from Spain, Argentina, Uruguay—even a civil suit in Washington DC.
The late writer Christopher Hitchens, in his book The Trial of Henry Kissinger, skewers Kissinger for ordering or sanctioning the destruction of civilian populations, the assassination of “unfriendly” politicians and the kidnapping and disappearance of soldiers, journalists and clerics who got in his way. He holds Kissinger responsible for war crimes ranging from the deliberate mass killings of civilian populations in Indochina, to collusion in mass murder and assassination in Bangladesh, the overthrow of the government in Chile, and the incitement and enabling of genocide in East Timor.
Hitchens was a lot harder on Kissinger than Bernie Sanders was. “Kissinger should have the door shut in his face by every decent person and should be shamed, ostracized, and excluded,” Hitchens wrote. “No more diners in his honor; no more respectful audiences for his absurdly overpriced public appearances; no more smirking photographs with hostesses and celebrities; no more soliciting of his worthless opinions by sycophantic editors and producers.”
Hitchens could have added another category of people who shouldn’t solicit Kissinger’s opinions: presidential candidates.Related Stories
After Roy Wood Jr., skipped out on a Donald Trump rally on Wednesday night’s “Daily Show,” I felt as if I had an itch left unscratched. So you can imagine how excited I was when another correspondent, Jordan Klepper, made the “the circus that is Donald Trump” the centerpiece of his profile on last night’s “Daily Show.” (And by some divine stroke of luck, Klepper ended up at the now-infamous rally at which Trump almost-kinda-sorta called Ted Cruz a “pussy.”)To build a contextual foundation, Klepper spoke to a Adam Realman (not to be confused with John Q. Sample), a Coney Island sideshow performer about the proper elements of a compelling circus act.
“When a lion tamer sticks his head in a lion’s mouth,” Realman explained, “you want to see the lion just chomp his head off.”
Regarding the comparison of Trump’s circus-like 2016 run to the actual circus itself, Realman said, “By calling him the greatest show on Earth, you’re kind of insulting a lot of the circus world.”
Outside a rally in Manchester, N.H., Klepper spoke to Trump supporters, one of whom suggested China would pay for a wall at our southern border with Mexico. Another “Trumpeter,” sporting an elegant camo “Make America Great Again” hat, called Trump the greatest weapon in the “defea-tion of ISIS.”
“Bomb the shit out of ‘em,” suggested yet another supporter, regarding ISIS. Asked where, the gentleman expounded, “Probably Israel-area.”
Allow Klepper to show you the splendor of the circus below:
John Kasich Is a Right-Wing Trojan Horse: Why the GOP Establishment’s Newest Pick Should Make Everybody Worried
So it looks like John Kasich, the latest great hope for GOP establishment sanity, found himself a benefactor, and none too soon. (He’s down to his last two million.) This would be one of the benefits of former great hopes dropping out of the race, as Christ Christie did this week, leaving one of his billionaires shopping for someone else to buy. That billionaire is Home Depot co-founder and investment banker Ken Langone.
In the first half of 2015, Langone gave $250,000 to the pro-Christie super PAC America Leads. “Would I write a check for $10 million? No, no I wouldn’t. But I do something better than that,” he said last year in an interview with National Journal. “I go out and get a lot people to write checks, and get them to get people to write checks, and hopefully result in a helluva lot more than $10 million.”
“I’m relentless. I’m not going to stop. I put a mirror under your nose. If I see mist, I ask you for money. If there’s nothing there, I’m talking to a stiff.”
This is a big get. Jeb Bush was in the hunt too and Langone was said to have been a fan. But Jeb doesn’t need money so Langone would just have jumped on top of a big pile of billionaires who are throwing away their cash, which doesn’t sound like much fun. If Kasich were to pull it off, he’d have Langone to thank for it.
Langone is known, for some reason, as an establishment guy but it’s hard to understand why. In a recent interview with CNBC he expressed a lot of admiration for Donald Trump because “he’s saying what the American people are thinking” and took the Tea Party view of Congress:
Last year, I can’t tell you how many times I got calls on how much money, how many checks I wrote. We’ve got to get control of the Senate. If we get control of the House and the Senate, we can get things done. Well, we’ve had control of the House and Senate since January and we’ve gotten nothing done.
I am absolutely — first of all, if I was John Boehner and I was Mitch McConnell I would resign as the leaders right now. I’d say somebody else take a shot at it. I am not getting anything done…they are being led around by their nose by the President of the United States. It’s almost as if the legislative branch doesn’t matter. And this is what is wrong. I think the American people are fed up.
Like so many right-wingers he seems confused about how government works. Apparently, he expected that the House and Senate could somehow force the president to do their bidding without offering any compromise or cooperation. It’s so interesting how differently they see things when a Republican is in the White House though.
His view of President Obama is pure Tea Party too:
He’s not bringing us together. He’s willfully dividing us. He’s petulant. Ronald Reagan would never go into the Oval Office without his jacket on — that’s how much he revered the presidency…
Divide us and we all lose. And this has got to stop. And if [Obama’s] listening, or one of his people are listening, and you can quote me exactly for what I say, he is not acting presidential, he is behaving in a way designed, in my opinion, to divide us and make us look at each other with skepticism, with suspicion.
That’s the end of America as we know it when that happens.
This guy [Obama] worked like hell to be president . . . Behave like a president. Let me look at you as a model to how we should behave. What does he say? Fat cats, jet airplanes. What is the purpose? Us versus them.
It’s an article of faith among many on the right that Barack Obama misbehaved so badly that he forced them to take extreme measures to obstruct all of his proposals and do everything in their power to keep the country from functioning normally. Langone obviously signs on to that view, and people nonetheless persist in believing that he’s moderate based solely on the fact that he’s previously supported guys like Rudy Giuliani and his old friend Ross Perot. (And yes, he’s occasionally thrown some money at New York Democrats like Andrew Cuomo and Chuck Schumer.) But his own views are not moderate in the least.
Langone’s ire at Obama’s comments about “fat cats” can probably be explained by his history of malfeasance and corruption as the head of the New York Stock Exchange’s compensation committee that ended in his friend Dick Grasso’s downfall at the hands of New York’s Attorney General at the time, Elliot Spitzer. It’s a delightful story of greed and avarice in which Langone demonstrated the grace under pressure of an upstanding American businessman:
“They got the wrong fucking guy…I’m nuts, I’m rich, and boy, do I love a fight. I’m going to make them shit in their pants. When I get through with these fucking captains of industry, they’re going to wish they were in a Cuisinart–at high speed.”
Despite his profane rhetoric, Langone is a devout Catholic. But he does part ways with the Pope on one important issue. He doesn’t care for the pontiff’s statements on market capitalism and complained to Cardinal Dolan of New York that big donors were balking at pitching in for a 180 million dollar renovation for St Patrick’s cathedral unless the Pope changed his tune. He suggested that the Pope would “get more with honey than with vinegar” and said he thought he was probably just confused because he had spent so much time with crony capitalists in Argentina and hadn’t been exposed to the higher caliber of billionaires we have here in America. Cardinal Dolan hastened to explain that the pope is “very grateful for the … legendary generosity of the Catholic Church in the United States.” Langone was presumably appeased by the Church’s reassurance of his superiority and goodness, because the renovations of the cathedral are proceeding apace.
Langone is staunchly anti-choice as you might expect. And that brings us back to his latest project, Ohio Governor John Kasich, the Sunny Optimist™ presidential candidate and latest object of establishment desire. I wrote about Kasich when he announced last summer noting that his personality is eccentric, to put it mildly, and that his reputation for moderation, like Ken Langone’s, is overstated.
As governor of Ohio, he did agree to take federal government money to expand Medicaid and even said he was doing it out of Christian kindness, which is refreshing. He also tried to break up all the public employee unions, although he foolishly didn’t confine himself to destroying workplace rights for kindergarten teachers and nurses, including cops and firefighters, which didn’t go over so well. Nonetheless, he rode into the governor’s office on the Tea Party wave in 2010 and he’s more than justified their faith in him.
This week he took some action that was virtually designed to please his constituents, his benefactor Ken Langone and hardcore conservatives in South Carolina. According to the Washington Post:
The Ohio legislature moved Wednesday to cut off $1.3 million in public health grants to Planned Parenthood in a closely watched vote that could have repercussions for the surging presidential campaign of Gov. John Kasich (R).
The bill, which cleared the Senate last month and passed the House on Wednesday, prohibits the Ohio Department of Health from giving state or federal grants to organizations that conduct or “promote” abortions. Kasich, who placed second in the Republican primary in New Hampshire on Tuesday, has said he would sign the bill.
[…] The measure had been a top priority of antiabortion activists in the state. The effort to strip Planned Parenthood of government funding got a boost last summer, after antiabortion activists released covertly filmed video purporting to show that the women’s health organization and abortion provider illegally sold fetal tissue for a profit.
[…] The Ohio bill is different in that it targets state and federal programs addressing HIV/AIDS, domestic violence, infant mortality and other problems. Planned Parenthood receives a large percentage of that money every year to administer the programs across the state. Under the new bill, the organization would be barred from administering those programs because of its role as an abortion provider.
So John Kasich, the so-called moderate in the GOP race, is going to sign a bill that will deny life-saving programs for his constituents in order to destroy Planned Parenthood. It’s impossible to know if this was what tipped the scales for Ken Langone to fund his race but either way, he must be so pleased. They are a match made in heaven.
Thanks to a string of name-checks by pop stars like Miley Cyrus, Madonna and Kanye West, as well as several tragic deaths at music festivals, ”molly”—aka MDMA—has rarely been far from the headlines in recent years.
Last winter, a bad batch sent nearly a dozen Wesleyan students to the hospital. Then over the summer, a 19-year-old girl became the second young woman to die after taking the drug at Echostage, a Washington, DC music venue. And in 2013, a University of Virginia student passed away after taking molly—the same weekend two Electric Zoo attendees died after reportedly taking the drug.
Let’s keep some perspective: Despite its potential to make people sick, it’s also important to remember that the majority of partiers popping molly across the globe don’t end up in the hospital. But why is it that some do?
“The only people we see either through the emergency room or arrests are people having some kind of significant adverse effect, so we don’t really know what percentage of people who use it end up with these adverse effects,” says Dr. Barry Logan, a toxicologist who has studied molly.
His insight, along with the published research, dispelled four common misconceptions about the popular party drug.
- Molly is not pure MDMA
Many users might assume their molly is pure MDMA—and the creation of this assumption is part of the reason that the drug was rebranded from its earlier name, ecstasy.
A quick history lesson: Until the mid-1990s, ecstasy was the purest street drug out there, researchers found. But a crackdown on the market led to a tainted supply lasting until around the early 2000s, when purity rose again. The name “molly” then became commonly used to designate the purer form of the drug, sold most typically in a crystalline or powder form. But this is pretty misleading.
Dr. Logan swabbed the saliva of 60 attendees who said they took molly at Miami’s Ultra music festival last year, and the results were damning: Only about 17% had ingested actual MDMA.
Of those 60 people, about 35% had taken ethylone; 25% had taken methylone, and 13% had taken Alpha-PVP. These are all new psychoactive substances similar to MDMA, with A-PVP having more stimulant effects than methylone and ethylone. These newer drugs were, Dr. Logan says, synthesized in response to the prohibition of MDMA. And now they’re routinely passed off as MDMA.
- Deaths aren’t always the result of overdose
Although higher doses of MDMA (and the synthetic cathinones often sold as MDMA) are generally considered riskier, low doses of MDMA can be dangerous too. A 2001 study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that while most MDMA-related “serious toxicity or fatality” involves blood levels of MDMA 40 times higher than the typical recreational dose, some fatalities involved doses considered “normal” among recreational users.
Also, the higher doses associated with serious health risks did not consistently predict harm; some people take just as much, yet party on with no problem. “This is an important point, because it demonstrates the degree to which the seriousness of the effects can be dependent on environmental factors other than the drug concentration,” the researchers noted.
In other words, when it comes to MDMA-related emergencies, there’s much more at play than the drug itself and the amount ingested.
“With any drug and with MDMA and some of these substitutes, you absolutely can overdose on them if you take enough,” Dr. Logan says, “but I would say the adverse effects are typically not because people are overdosing. It’s because they’re taking it in a pattern of intensive use—they have some pre-existing risk factor [like a cardiac disease], or they’re taking it in an environment where they’re not hydrating or it’s already hot and they’re increasing their risk.”
If you’ve decided to use molly (or any other psychoactive substance), a rule of thumb to keep yourself safer is to start small. For those who are going to use but want to mitigate their risk, Dr. Logan notes that some people: “Try a portion of a dose, rather than a whole tablet, to learn what the effects are before [deciding] how much they’re going to take.”
- The club might not be the best place for molly
The idea of using molly might evoke a crowd of pulsating partiers illuminated by a club’s light show. But taking molly in a hot, crowded club where water is only accessible behind the bar is a practice with plenty of negatives.
Dr. Harold Kalant, author of the Canadian study noted earlier, wrote that “perhaps the most dangerous form of toxicity induced by ‘ecstasy’ is a hyperplexic pattern of toxicity that closely resembles heatstroke.”
Most strikingly, this particularly dangerous reaction to MDMA “has become increasingly frequent since the adoption of MDMA by participants in raves.” MDMA increases body temperature a bit—but dancing in a hot crowd without hydrating greatly exacerbates this effect.
Drinking too much water can be risky as well, but it’s not as likely to hurt people as dehydration.
Rather than heading to the club it’s generally safer to stay home if you’re on molly—not that everyone will want to. “That’s not typically why people want to use the drugs,” Dr. Logan points out. “The effects of the drugs, the excitation, increased sensation of touch and sensitivity—I think people enjoy that a lot more in a shared environment.”
Interestingly, clinical research conducted to study MDMA’s therapeutic effects hasn’t resulted in any deaths or injury. This is in largely because the environment is controlled, people predisposed to illness are excluded from the studies, and of course, the MDMA volunteers consume is not adulterated with other, potentially riskier substances.
- The “comedown” is heavily influenced by external factors
The molly “comedown” is such a dreaded part of the experience that some users find it can sully the high, making them too anxious about how they’ll feel once the molly wears off to relax and enjoy their roll.
Combining molly with other drugs and alcohol, a predisposition to mental illness, lack of sleep, or the simple fact of going from high to sober have all been linked to negative mood after a roll. That said, the research into what causes negative feelings once the drug has worn off presents a very mixed picture.
While one study found evidence of mid-week blues following MDMA use due to depleted serotonin (another common-yet-disputed hypothesis), another study analyzing “the question of why [psychobiological deficits] are only evident in some users” found that “non-drug factors”—like the environment—were associated with a nasty comedown. Dancing and feeling hot were also associated with come-down effects once the party was over.
The first study to empirically analyze the environmental factors of a comedown found that “relatively few of those who reported no or occasional dancing on ecstasy reported psychobiological come-down problems. Whereas a higher proportion of those who danced all the time while on drug, reported post-Ecstasy problems in the days afterwards.”
“In broader terms,” the authors continued, “prolonged dancing on Ecstasy was also related to more reports of depression, poor concentration, and organizational difficulties, in the come-down period, and to more reports of depression and weight loss (attributed to Ecstasy/MDMA) when off-drug.”
If there’s anything you take away from this list, let it be this: the environment in which users take MDMA is a huge factor. So if you’re doing molly, common sense means starting small, keeping cool, and taking breaks from the dance floor.
Kristen Gwynne is an associate editor of The Influence.Related Stories
In a major decison that will open the floodgates to anonymous big-money political attack ads for the rest of the 2016 presidental election, the Internal Revenue Service has caved into pressure from the GOP-led Congress and declared that political front groups can masquerade as charities under the tax code.
The IRS has granted nonprofit status to Karl Rove's dark money political operation, Crossroads GPS, which for the past five years has pushed the legal envelope in order to influence elections but keep its donors secret, saying it was a social welfare organization akin to the March of Dimes. As a result, it didn't have to disclose who was bankrolling its operation, which allows a range of special interests and wealthy individuals to throw the political mud but duck the spotlighht.
Formed in the wake of Citizens United, Crossroads GPS has been one of the biggest secretly-funded political players, raising and spending $330 million on election-related ads attacking Democratic candidates or praising Republicans, but without doing anything that might be described as advancing "social welfare." Although the majority opinion in the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United decision endorsed disclosure of donors, in the five years following the decision, spending by secretly-funded 501(c)(4) nonprofits has exploded.
The IRS ruling has tremendous implications because if Crossroads GPS can be granted nonprofit status, there may be few limits on how political operatives can use tax-exempt groups to dodge campaign finance disclosure laws. The Koch political network, for example, will have little fear of IRS enforcement as it spends almost $889 million this election cycle through its network of nonprofit groups.
Nonprofits organized under section 501(c)(4) of the tax code are supposed to be "exclusively" dedicated to advancing social welfare, rather than political campaign activity, according to the language of the statute. The IRS has interpreted the law to allow 501(c)(4) groups to engage in some political activity--perhaps up to 50 percent--as long as their overall activities show they are "primarily" advancing social welfare.
Crossroads GPS has not appeared to do anything over the last five years but spend money influencing elections--or act as a conduit passing money to other politically-active nonprofits--yet the IRS still granted it nonprofit status. Crossroads has not publicly picked a horse in the 2016 primary but the grant of legitimacy from the IRS might help give it a fundraising boost.
"This decision will only add to the public’s frustration with a political system that is wildly out of balance and tilted to serve the interests of wealthy donors," said Stephen Spaulding, Legal Director at Common Cause.
Crossroads was one of the groups that accused the IRS of political bias in 2013 when the agency gave the group's application for nonprofit status extra scrutiny (even though left-leaning groups were also scrutinized). According to documents later shared with the House Ways and Means Committee, the IRS had been drafting a denial of tax exemption for Crossroads GPS before the IRS scandal erupted.
Perhaps the most charitable interpretation of the IRS' decision to grant Crossroads tax-exempt status is that the rules for what constitutes "political activity" are ambiguous. Crossroads GPS' political activities may have been calibrated to exploit uncertainty around the rules, with the expectation that a timid IRS would not enforce the law against powerful players.
Last year, the IRS was in the process of drafting new rules to clarify the definition of political activity--both to address tax code abuses by groups like Crossroads GPS, and to give clear guidance to other nonprofits about how they can permissibly engage in the political process.
But a budget rider slipped into the omnibus spending bill—negotiated by Paul Ryan with the Obama administration--blocks the IRS from taking any further action on the rules, guaranteeing that dark money political operators like Crossroads GPS can continue to skirt the law and get away with it.
“Because the IRS is failing to implement existing law properly, it’s more important than ever that the service issue rules to avoid this debacle in the future,” said Emily Peterson-Cassin, coordinator of Public Citizen’s Bright Lines Project, an effort to clarify the rules for all nonprofits. “For this reason and others, the IRS’ system of evaluating political activity remains broken, and unless the rider is stripped out of future legislation, its harmful effects will continue.”
In other words, while congressional insiders might be fighting over the fine-print of what the IRS can consider political activity, the biggest anonymous donors and their front groups are free to use whatever means they want to attack candidates without without taking public responsibility for those opinions.
Corporate mainstream media have sanitized and distorted the life and teachings of Martin Luther King Jr., putting him in the category of a “civil rights leader” who focused narrowly on racial discrimination; end of story.
Missing from the story is that Dr. King was also a tough-minded critic of our capitalist economic structure, much like Bernie Sanders is today.
The reality is that King himself supported democratic socialism – and that civil rights activists and socialists have walked arm-in-arm for more than a century.
The same news outlets that omit such facts keep telling us that the mass of African American voters in South Carolina and elsewhere are diehard devotees of Hillary (and Bill) Clinton – implying that blacks are somehow wary of Bernie Sanders and his “democratic socialism.”
Here are some key historical facts and quotes that get almost no attention in mainstream media:
1909: Many socialists – both blacks and whites – were involved in forming the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), our country’s oldest civil rights group. Among them was renowned black intellectual W.E.B. Dubois.
1925: Prominent African American socialist A. Philip Randolph became the first president of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, a union that played a major role in activism for civil and economic rights (including the 1963 “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom”).
1952: In a fascinating letter to Coretta Scott, the woman he would marry a year later, Martin King wrote: “I imagine you already know that I am much more socialistic in my economic theory than capitalistic. . . . Today capitalism has out-lived its usefulness.”
1965: King wrote an essay in Pageant magazine, “The Bravest Man I Ever Knew,” extolling Norman Thomas as “America’s foremost socialist” and favorably quoting a black activist who said of Thomas: “He was for us before any other white folks were.”
1965: After passage of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act in 1965, King became even more vocal abouteconomic rights: “What good is having the right to sit at a lunch counter if you can’t afford to buy a hamburger?”
1965-66: King supported President Lyndon Johnson’s “War on Poverty” but urged more – calling for a “gigantic Marshall Plan” for our naton’s poor of all races.
1966: In remarks to staffers at the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), King said:
“You can’t talk about solving the economic problem of the Negro without talking about billions of dollars. You can’t talk about ending the slums without first saying profit must be taken out of slums. You’re really tampering and getting on dangerous ground because you are messing with folk then. You are messing with captains of industry. . . . It really means that we are saying something is wrong with capitalism. There must be a better distribution of wealth, and maybe America must move toward a democratic socialism.”
March 1967: King commented to SCLC’s board that “the evils of capitalism are as real as the evils of militarism and evils of racism.”
April 1967: In his speech denouncing the U.S. war in Vietnam at New York’s Riverside Church, King extended his economic critique abroad, complaining about “capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa, and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries.”
May 1967: In a report to SCLC’s staff, King said:
“We must recognize that we can’t solve our problem now until there is a radical redistribution of economic and political power . . . this means a revolution of values and other things. We must see now that the evils of racism, economic exploitation and militarism are all tied together . . . you can’t really get rid of one without getting rid of the others the whole structure of American life must be changed.”
August 1967: In his final speech to an SCLC convention, King declared:
“One day we must ask the question, ‘Why are there forty million poor people in America?’ And when you begin to ask that question, you are raising a question about the economic system, about a broader distribution of wealth. When you ask that question, you begin to question the capitalistic economy. And I'm simply saying that more and more, we've got to begin to ask questions about the whole society. We are called upon to help the discouraged beggars in life's marketplace. But one day we must come to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. It means that questions must be raised. And you see, my friends, when you deal with this you begin to ask the question, ‘Who owns the oil?’ You begin to ask the question, ‘Who owns the iron ore?’ You begin to ask the question, ‘Why is it that people have to pay water bills in a world that's two-thirds water?’”
Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968 as he and SCLC were mobilizing a multiracial army of the poor to descend nonviolently on Washington D.C. demanding a “Poor Peoples Bill of Rights.” He told a New York Times reporter that “you could say we’re involved in the class struggle.”
A year before he was murdered, King said the following to journalist David Halberstam: “For years I labored with the idea of reforming the existing institutions of the South, a little change here, a little change there. Now I feel quite differently. I think you’ve got to have a reconstruction of the entire society, a revolution of values.”
Unlike what Hillary Clinton professes today, Dr. King came to reject the idea of slow, incremental change. He thought big. He proposed solutions that could really solve social problems.
Unlike corporate-dominated U.S. media, King was not at all afraid of democratic socialism. Other eminent African American leaders have been unafraid. Perhaps it’s historically fitting that former NAACP president Ben Jealous has recently campaigned for Bernie Sanders in South Carolina.
If mainstream journalists did more reporting on the candidates’ actual records, instead of crystal-ball gazing about the alleged hold that the Clintons have over African American voters, news consumers would know about the deplorable record of racially-biased incarceration and economic hardship brought on by Clinton administration policies. (See Michelle Alexander’s “Why Hillary Clinton Doesn’t Deserve the Black Vote.”)
With income inequality even greater now than during Martin Luther King’s final years, is there much doubt that King would be supporting the progressive domestic agenda of Bernie Sanders?
Before Bernie was making these kinds of big economic reform proposals, King was making them – but mainstream media didn’t want to hear them at the time . . . or now.Related Stories
Yesterday the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) corrected an error that it made in projecting the share of earnings that will be replaced by Social Security for those nearing retirement. In a report published last fall, CBO projected that for people born in the 1960s, the annual Social Security benefit for those retiring at age 65, would be 60 percent of their earnings for middle income retirees and 95 percent of earnings for those in the bottom quintile. The correction showed that benefits would replace 41 percent of earnings for middle income retirees and 60 percent of earnings for those in the bottom quintile.
This mattered a great deal because the originally published numbers were quickly seized upon by those advocating cuts in Social Security benefits. For example, Andrew Biggs, who served in the Social Security Administration under President George W. Bush, used the projections as a basis for a column in the Wall Street Journal with the headline “new evidence on the phony retirement income crisis.” The piece argued that benefits were overly generous and should be cut back, at least for better off retirees. (To his credit, Biggs quickly retracted the piece after CBO acknowledged the mistake.)
While this was a serious error, unfortunately it was not the first time that CBO had made a major error in an authoritative publication. In 2010, in its annual long-term budget projections it grossly overstated the negative effect on the economy of budget deficits. The 2010 long-term projections showed a modest increase in future deficits relative to the 2009 projections, yet the impact on the economy was far worse.
The 2010 projections showed a drop in GDP of almost 18 percent by 2025, compared to a balanced budget scenario. This was more than twice as large as the impact shown in the prior year’s projections. The sharp projected drop in GDP could have been used to emphasize the urgency of deficit reduction. As was the case with the recent Social Security projections, CBO corrected its numbers after the error was exposed.
These two errors are troubling not only because of their size and importance to major public policy issues, but also because they should have been easily detected. Just to be clear, it is inconceivable that anyone at CBO deliberately put erroneous numbers in these publications. Hundreds of policy experts review these numbers after their publication. No one could think that faked numbers would escape detection.
Nonetheless, these mistaken numbers somehow got out the door at CBO. All CBO publications undergo internal review processes. They don’t just allow a staffer to type a document and post it on the web. In the case of the budget projections, anyone who was knowledgeable about CBO models should have immediately recognized the sharp break with prior projections, just as we did. Yet somehow no one reviewing the projections at CBO caught the mistake.
The same story applies to the projections of Social Security replacement rates. These numbers were far out of line with past projections as well as projections done by the Social Security Administration. Furthermore, the actual benefit numbers were included directly in the same publication in another table (Exhibit 9). They showed that the average benefit for a worker in the bottom quintile would be $11,000 a year (in 2015 dollars). Could this be 95 percent of these workers’ pay? The average benefit for a worker in the middle quintile was projected at $22,000. Is this 60 percent of the annual earnings of a middle income worker?
Someone at CBO should have caught these numbers before they went out the door. They weren’t off by just a little bit, they were absurd. But somehow a number of economists and budget experts at CBO looked at these numbers and said they looked fine. The fact that both errors were in a direction that would tend to support cuts to Social Security is especially troubling. Would a major error in the opposite direction also escape detection?
This question is especially important in light of CBO’s latest set of budget projections. These projections show the annual deficit rising from a relatively modest 2.9 percent of GDP this year to 4.9 percent of GDP in 2026. CBO highlighted this projected rise in the deficit in the very first paragraph of the summary. Needless to say, the Washington deficit hawks quickly jumped on the CBO numbers to renew their calls for deficit reduction, including cuts to Social Security and Medicare.
However, a closer look at the numbers showed that the only reason that the deficits are projected to increase is that CBO projects a sharp rise in interest rates over the next two years. Higher rates are projected to persist over the rest of the projection period. The projected rise in interest rates leads to higher interest payments, and therefore a large deficit.
This projection of higher interest rates is troubling because CBO has projected a sharp rise in interest rates every year since 2010. It has been wrong in each of the last six years as interest rates remained low. So far, it looks like it will again be wrong in 2017, as long-term rates have fallen since the end of 2015. Given this track record, it might be reasonable for CBO to re-examine its models. After all, a model that consistently over-projects interest rates is not a very good model.
Of course, if CBO were to project that interest rates remain somewhere near current levels, then there would not be much of a story of rising deficits, and little ammunition for those seeking cuts in Social Security and Medicare. There are certainly plausible explanations for CBO’s decision to stick to its model that don’t depend on a desire to cut these benefits, but the major errors that got through the door are not encouraging in this respect.
As the 2016 presidential primary race moves on to Nevada and South Carolina, then to bigger states in March, let’s hope we’re leaving behind the tedious and divisive way both campaigns and their supporters talked to and about women.
Let’s especially hope we’re leaving behind two of the most annoying features of the campaign to date: the so-called Berniebros preying on female Hillary Clinton supporters with, at best, condescension and, at worst, sexist abuse, and the hellfire from Hillary Clinton backers—we’ll play on Madeleine Albright’s unhelpful quote about the “special place in hell for women who don’t support other women”—insisting that female Bernie supporters are failing their sister Hillary Clinton with their terrible taste in men.
What do both sets of attacks have in common? They’re both directed—critically, condescendingly, and annoyingly—at women. Of course.
To his credit, Sanders has denounced his abusive keyboard-warrior fans who troll women with sexist invective. “Anybody who is supporting me that is doing the sexist things—we don’t want them,” he recently told CNN, echoing comments he made earlier in the campaign. That meant a lot—especially when some of his high-profile male media defenders, trying to gaslight the women who’ve been targeted by obnoxious pro-Sanders sexists, have insisted that Berniebros don’t even exist. It’s also interesting to note that since the Sanders campaign spoke up, the incidence of online abuse has gone down (as far as I can tell). Apparently the keyboard warriors are listening to their leader.
I’m also bothered by the Clinton campaign’s response to the issue of younger women’s supporting her opponent. Again, it’s not coming from the candidate herself. Clinton has had a generous and pragmatic response to the phenomenon: “They may not be for me, but I am for them.”
But last weekend we saw the campaign’s messaging unravel thanks to three passionate supporters. Gloria Steinem, in a quote that’s been taken out of context, somewhat unfairly, lamentably claimed that “when you’re young you’re thinking, Where are the boys? The boys are with Bernie.” Former secretary of state Madeleine Albright spoke aloud, in the context of this campaign, the maxim so famous that it’s adorned Starbucks cups, seeming to condemn Sanders’ young female supporters not merely to the political margins but to hell. Finally, former president Clinton railed against the Berniebros and cited me by name, referencing the piece I wrote about the abuse I’ve taken from some of Sanders’ ugliest male supporters.
None of that helped Clinton; it may have hurt her. I hope that condescending approach to women who support Sanders is behind us—but it may not be, because when the Clinton campaign is feeling cornered, misunderstood, and down in the polls, as in was in 2008, its worst instincts come out. The campaign has to learn from that loss; defensiveness never works, and attacking her opponent only reinforces the stereotype that she plays dirty (never mind that both Obama and Sanders gave as good as they got; they were insulated from attacks because they weren’t seen as mere politicians; they were judged to have transcended politics to become movement leaders). Clinton began to rebound in 2008 when she shook off her angst about media bias and campaign sexism and became a fighter again. She needs to do that this time around.
In particular, Clinton has to look squarely at her dismal numbers with millennials to try to understand the desperation, and related distrust of politics, behind them. It’s absolutely accurate to say that Clinton’s negative numbers on honesty and trustworthiness have been driven by a 25-year “vast right-wing conspiracy”; but what’s done is done. Sanders is bringing in new voters who have little knowledge and no ingrained defensiveness about what Democrats have suffered at the hands of increasingly radical and politically vicious right-wing Republicans (and compliant media). Many have no loyalty to the Democratic Party in the first place. Democrats, starting with Clinton, must try to win their loyalty.
Young women in particular have to be a Clinton concern. Women are always more “liberal” than men, and more pro-government, because they have always been more vulnerable to the unfairness of the market. The gender gap has been at least as driven by economics as by concerns about reproductive rights and gender discrimination—poorly labeled “women’s issues”—if not more so. On one level, then, it makes sense that young women are open to Sanders’s radicalism, and his appeal to a vastly expanded welfare state, providing free college, and single-payer healthcare financed by higher taxes.
They may also feel more free of sexism than their mothers, aunts, and older sisters. They probably aremore free of it. I’ve heard two messages coming from Clinton supporters, in response to that argument, in the last two weeks. One is: OK, you’re more free of sexism. That’s due to our hard work. And this is how you thank us? The other is to say: Life only seems fairer to millennial women; wait until they get older and face the condescension, contempt, and outright discrimination women meet in the workplace—especially as they age. It’s either “You’re an ingrate!” or “Life gets worse!”
As the mother of a millennial woman (albeit one who supports and works for Clinton), let me tell you, those are terrible messages. We have to drop them.
But what should Clinton say instead? She isn’t a radical, and she shouldn’t pretend to be one. She does not believe in the rapidly and vastly expanded welfare state, financed by vastly expanded taxes, that Sanders promises. But she must cast her own progressive vision in much bolder terms than she has to date. She has decent reasons to oppose “free college”; first of all, it would crowd out most of the other new and expanded government programs she has proposed. Still, Clinton must feel the desperation of a generation saddled with student debt for whom “free college” makes absolute sense. When she said flat-out in the last debate, “No, I don’t believe in free college,” I cringed. There’s a tough, candid, but sometimes flippant side to Clinton—”That’s what they offered me,” in response to concern about her Wall Street speaking fees—that I respect. To me it’s like Cautious Hillary finally doesn’t GAF, as the kids say. But she has to GAF, lots more of them, about these issues if she wants to win.
Clinton’s incrementalism is a tough sell to a younger generation unschooled by life’s limits and desperate for change. She needs to cast her own agenda boldly, as the answer to strangling student debt, stagnating wages, and a cruelly threadbare safety net for parents and children, especially compared to the rest of the developed world. Her pitch ought to be something like: “Free college may ultimately be a good idea, and maybe we’ll get there. But funding free college now would make it impossible to fund everything else on our agenda. We need universal preschool, for example, and more widely available childcare. We need to expand the Affordable Care Act until it’s truly universal. We need paid family leave. Yes, we need to make the rich pay their fair share of taxes, and we’re going to. But we are probably going to have to prioritize our most urgent issues first. So I’m starting with debt-free college, and universal preschool, and paid family leave. Until we get all of that done, I’m fine with Donald Trump’s grandkids—and my granddaughter, Charlotte—having to contribute something to their own education.”
While I’m giving free campaign advice, I’d also advise her staff to schedule a lightly moderated town hall at a South Carolina university—maybe at an historically black college. I saw her speak at Claflin University, an HBCU, in November, and she shined. But it was a small crowd, and only a minority of the audience were students. In New Hampshire last week, Clinton reportedly took questions from college-aged Sanders supporters, which was a good idea—but almost nobody saw it. There’s no guarantee we’ll see it this time, but it’s worth a try, and if she goes big and bold enough, media invested in the idea that she can’t do it might televise the spectacle.
What does Sanders have to do, on gender issues, besides keep the Berniebros reined in? I’d like his campaign to ponder its own gender gap, in which men overwhelmingly favor Sanders. Yes, the Vermont senator won women in New Hampshire, 55-45, a blow to Clinton. But he won men 66-32, an 11-point gender gap. Why did two-thirds of men reject Clinton for Sanders? It’s certainly not all sexism, but some of it is. That should give the Sanders team pause when it comes to messaging.
Sanders also heads into less-white states where the votes of African-American women, Asian women, and Latinas will matter much more. There is little polling on whether millennial voters of color, particularly women, are #Feelingthebern. He needs to work harder to make sure they do.
Finally—and this isn’t about Berniebros—he needs a dose of kindness and humility toward his opponent, and her supporters. As he takes on yet another woman—Vermont Governor Madeline Kunin has written about his tone-deaf but unsuccessful campaign against her—he ought to be a little more sensitive to the tens of millions of women who do support Clinton. (So do the media, which sometimes treat Clinton’s over-45 supporters as an albatross she should shake off rather than an advantage.) Sanders’ self-pitying victory speech Tuesday night cast him as a victim of a Democratic “establishment”—including, as he’s claimed in the past, feminist groups like Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America—that he’ll very much need to become president. He can’t win by only being the candidate of white men and young white women. A little bit of generosity, a dose of share-the-political-warmth, from our first realistic socialist presidential contender could go a long way.
Our future of ever-dwindling natural resources demands attention. The hot topic of today is finally climate change — great. But regardless of what they cooked up at COP21, while reducing carbon emissions is vital, it’s merely one of a myriad of ways in which society needs to go about shifting the environment’s inevitable crash course.
Enter the agrihood.
The agrihood is an attempt to invert the wasteful nature of the gated community, swapping golf-courses and fitness centers for functioning farms. Given the massive waste of water that goes into maintaining 18 holes, the agrihood represents a growing trend that embodies the collective need to reconsider many of our current urban frameworks. The United States is currently leading the way, with agrihoods popping up across the country. This recent, positive trend marks the intersection of land made available following the 2008 real estate bubble and the growing interest in community-supported agriculture ventures.
"The issue is making more calories out of the water we have," said Matthew Redmond, owner of Agriburbia LLB, a firm specializing in farm design, construction and operation, in an interview with ABC News. "Growing things that are better for you. And fewer people are playing golf these days. We'll be seeing a lot of golf course conversions in the next 10 to 15 years."
The gated community Agritopia, located just outside Phoenix, Arizona, was recently featured in an article on agrihoods in the New York Times. Spread across 160 acres, Agritopia boasts, according to its website, 16 acres of “organic farmland, with row crops (artichokes to zucchini), fruit trees (citrus, nectarine, peach, apple, olive and date) and livestock (chickens and sheep).”
So who exactly is moving into these new urban dwellings?
"They tend to be what I call the barbell generation," said Ed McMahon, a senior resident fellow with the Urban Land Institute in Washington, also quoted by ABC News. "The millennial generation that wants fresh everything, that wants to know where their food is coming from. Also the senior generation, the baby boomers. They don't want big yards to take care of anymore.”Related Stories
Outside last night's Democratic debate in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Fight For 15 protesters marched in support of nearly doubling the minimum wage. Currently, Senator Bernie Sanders is the only presidential candidate who advocates raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, while Hillary Clinton has been firm in her compromise proposal to raise the wage to $12, but no higher.
Wisconsin's minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, the same as the federal minimum wage. Fight For 15, a nationwide movement, has a similar protest planned outside the Peace Center in Greenville, South Carolina, to coincide with the next GOP debate this Saturday."All these policians are chasing these votes across South Carolina and we’ll be right outside with more than 1,000 votes saying, if you want our vote, come get our vote," announced Kendall Fells, an organizer with Fight For 15. "We don't care if you're a Democrat or Republican ... you have to promise two things: $15 and a union." Related Stories
Twitter seemed to enjoy Thursday night’s Democratic debate despite it being largely substantive, as opposed to the freak show that the GOP has been putting on every week. Wonkette, NRO’s Jonah Goldberg, and others went classy before the debate even began:
February 12, 2016
Hillary's outfit would be perfect for a major diplomat on Star Trek: Next Generation.— Jonah Goldberg (@JonahNRO) February 12, 2016
POLL: Who Wore it Better? pic.twitter.com/Rl0gFbTLwz— Matthew Naugle (@MattNaugle) February 12, 2016
After the opening statements, PBS cut straight to what it considers “commercials,” and people weren’t pleased, albeit for different reasons:
PBS commercials are boring— James Taranto (@jamestaranto) February 12, 2016
PBS not even trying to pretend they don't have commercials anymore, ay?— jay smooth (@jsmooth995) February 12, 2016
Everyone was acutely aware that this was a PBS debate:
Both candidates tonight appear to be making effort to use their PBS voices— Paul Singer (@singernews) February 12, 2016
Clinton wearing yellow on PBS a clear ode to Big Bird. She knows the audience. pic.twitter.com/lufHqOgEZC— andrew kaczynski (@BuzzFeedAndrew) February 12, 2016
Meanwhile! pic.twitter.com/ZsKSqHHa35— andrew kaczynski (@BuzzFeedAndrew) February 12, 2016
Debate live-tweeting celebrity Patton Oswalt claimed he wouldn’t be live-tweeting the debate:
Not Live Tweeting tonight's debate (late shoot) or Saturday's (WGA Awards). See you on the 25th for the next #GOPFecalCircus.— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) February 12, 2016
But couldn’t help himself:
Just glanced at the #DemDebate over at video village. Bernie Sanders is the David Bowie of normcore.— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) February 12, 2016
People were very sure they knew when Sanders first stumbled:
Sanders: "Secretary Clinton, you are not in the White House, yet."— Dan Merica (@danmericaCNN) February 12, 2016
Bernie to Hillary: "You're not in the White House yet." Said in the spirit of "you're likable enough"— HowardKurtz (@HowardKurtz) February 12, 2016
Bad moment for Bernie? "Secretary Clinton, you're not in the WH yet." Sounded like "likable enough."— Jonathan Allen (@jonallendc) February 12, 2016
And when he outed himself as “an old”:
He is 74, I suppose.
DO MARIJUANA.— Erin Keane (@eekshecried) February 12, 2016
"do marijuana"— David A. Graham (@GrahamDavidA) February 12, 2016
When the 70+ year old embraces drug decriminalization.
Many conservatives were very happy that the travails of white people were addressed:
Wait, life is also terrible for white people, in case you were wondering if it's not terrible for everybody— John Podhoretz (@jpodhoretz) February 12, 2016
February 12, 2016
But it’s difficult to see this debate making much of a difference:
I'm not sure this debate offers *any* clarity for regular people. They agree on 90%. Differences are minute and often wonky.— Natalie Jackson (@nataliemjb) February 12, 2016
The clearest difference between the two seemed to be on the fate of children immigrating from Central America:
February 12, 2016
February 12, 2016
Sanders went after Wall Street as a way to attack Clinton:
Bernie, on bankster contributions: "Just for the fun of it they want to throw money around"— emptywheel (@emptywheel) February 12, 2016
Clinton attempted to deflect, but to no avail:
February 12, 2016
Which isn’t to say that Sanders made no questionable assertions:
Sanders: "People aren't dumb"
His attack on Clinton for consorting with Henry Kissinger was on point however:
You know who else was friends with Kissinger pic.twitter.com/TvROWORn5S— Dave Itzkoff (@ditzkoff) February 12, 2016
One of the most pressing issues of the night was noticed by conservative radio host Todd Starnes:
Who is whispering? #DemDebate— toddstarnes (@toddstarnes) February 12, 2016
In the end, though, it was pretty clear what was wrong this debate. It:
NEEDS MORE RACIST FEARMONGERING— Ana Marie Cox (@anamariecox) February 12, 2016 Related Stories
Henry Kissinger's quote released by Wikileaks, "The illegal we do immediately; the unconstitutional takes a little longer," likely brought a smile to his legions of elite media, government, corporate and high society admirers. Oh that Henry! That rapier wit! That trademark insouciance! It is unlikely, however, that the descendants of his more than 6 million victims in Indochina, and Americans of conscience appalled by his murder of non-Americans, will share in the amusement. His illegal and unconstitutional actions had real-world consequences: the ruined lives of millions of Indochinese innocents in a new form of secret, automated U.S. executive warfare. (Read Branfman's extended related essay on Kissinger.)
Kissinger has a history of saying outrageous things that reveal a dark callousness and hostility to the lives of innocent civilians. Here's a sampling:Top 10 Kissinger Quotes 1. Soviet Jews: “The emigration of Jews from the Soviet Union is not an objective of American foreign policy. And if they put Jews into gas chambers in the Soviet Union, it is not an American concern. Maybe a humanitarian concern.” (link)
2. Bombing Cambodia: “[Nixon] wants a massive bombing campaign in Cambodia. He doesn't want to hear anything about it. It's an order, to be done. Anything that flies or anything that moves.” (link)
3. Bombing Vietnam: "It's wave after wave of planes. You see, they can't see the B-52 and they dropped a million pounds of bombs ... I bet you we will have had more planes over there in one day than Johnson had in a month ... each plane can carry about 10 times the load of World War II plane could carry." (link)
4. Khmer Rouge: “How many people did (Khmer Rouge Foreign Minister Ieng Sary) kill? Tens of thousands? You should tell the Cambodians (i.e., Khmer Rouge) that we will be friends with them. They are murderous thugs, but we won’t let that stand in the way. We are prepared to improve relations with them. Tell them the latter part, but don’t tell them what I said before.” (Nov. 26, 1975 meeting with Thai foreign minister)
5. Dan Ellsberg: “Because that son-of-a-bitch—First of all, I would expect—I know him well—I am sure he has some more information---I would bet that he has more information that he’s saving for the trial. Examples of American war crimes that triggered him into it…It’s the way he’d operate….Because he is a despicable bastard.” (Oval Office tape, July 27, 1971)
6. Robert McNamara: “Boohoo, boohoo … He’s still beating his breast, right? Still feeling guilty. ” (Pretending to cry, rubbing his eyes.)
7. Assassination: “It is an act of insanity and national humiliation to have a law prohibiting the President from ordering assassination.” (Statement at a National Security Council meeting, 1975)
8. Chile: “I don't see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its people. The issues are much too important for the Chilean voters to be left to decide for themselves.” (link)
9. Illegality-Unconstitutionality: “The illegal we do immediately. The unconstitutional takes a little longer.” (from March 10, 1975 meeting with Turkish foreign minister Melih Esenbel in Ankara, Turkey)
10. On His Own Character: “Americans like the cowboy … who rides all alone into the town, the village, with his horse and nothing else … This amazing, romantic character suits me precisely because to be alone has always been part of my style or, if you like, my technique.” (November 1972 interview with Oriana Fallaci)