Why Bernie Matters

    Opponents of Bernie Sanders have been having a field day. Over the past couple of weeks, the Vermont Senator has taken a number of shots. A writer at Slate rather absurdly knocks him for 1) hosting a popular podcast allegedly characterized by shoddy production values and softball questions. More seriously, he has been criticized both for 2) failing to endorse, at least initially, Democratic Congressional candidate Jon Ossoff in Georgia’s sixth district, and 3) endorsing Omaha Mayoral candidate Heath Mello notwithstanding Mello’s votes to restrict abortion rights in the Nebraska legislature. Sanders also continues to hear from carpers who resent his decision 4) to re-become an independent after registering as a Democrat before his Presidential run.

    Sanders should have climbed on board the Ossoff train weeks before, not immediately after, the primary in which the Georgia Democrat came agonizingly close to prevailing in a long-held Republican district. On the other hand, Bernie’s support for Mello is reasonable in light of Mello’s “feisty economic populism” and pro-choice voting record over the past five years.

    Ultimately though, the attacks on Bernie are beside the point regardless of merit. Sanders is our country’s most popular politician and most important progressive because of his authentic outrage at America’s “rigged” neo-liberal political economy and his preference for an idealized form of Euro-style socialism. A recent poll suggests over 100 million Americans view him favorably. No other politician comes close.

    Bernie doesn’t just decry the ever-increasing share of our nation’s wealth and income gushing to the top. He articulates a clear and credible vision of a better America characterized by 1) an end to free trade deals, 2) a $15 hourly minimum wage, 3) single-payer healthcare, 4) tuition-free public colleges and universities, and 5) much higher taxes on the rich. In light of this achievement, his somewhat whimsical endorsement record is an afterthought.

    Bernie’s core message is that the 99% must unite to fight economic injustice but he does not ignore other challenges including potential environmental collapse. Indeed, he links the two phenomena. From his website:

    The scientists are virtually unanimous that climate change is real, is caused by human activity and is already causing devastating problems in the United States and around the world. And, they tell us, if we do not act boldly the situation will only become much worse in years to come in terms of drought, floods, extreme storms and acidification of the oceans. . . . While fossil fuel companies are raking in record profits, climate change ravages our planet and our people – all because the wealthiest industry in the history of our planet has bribed politicians into ignoring science.

    Recognition has been growing that Bernie’s diagnosis for what ails us is accurate. Indeed scholars, along with religious leaders and anti-poverty activists are warning that our very civilization could unravel as a result of either global warming, extreme inequality, or a confluence of the two. In its May 2014 edition, a trio of NASA-funded scientists led by the University of Maryland’s Safa Motesharrei made this point. In an article in Ecological Economics they concluded that “two features . . . seem to appear across societies that have collapsed: the stretching of resources due to strain placed on the ecological carrying capacity, and the division of society into Elites (rich) and Commoners (poor).”

    In June 2015, Oxfam International’s Executive Director Winnie Biyanyima praised Pope Benedict for his “moral leadership on these two defining issues, inequality and climate change." Just last week, the BBC’s Rachel Nuwer lamented in a published article that Syria’s recent history and the evident unwillingness of developed nations to meet the challenges of economic injustice and climate change suggest that the task of saving civilization may “exceed our political and psychological capabilities.” More optimistically, Nuwer concludes that “Western civilisation is not a lost cause, however. Using reason and science to guide decisions, paired with extraordinary leadership and exceptional goodwill, human society can progress to higher and higher levels of well-being and development[.]”

    Given the evident urgency of humanity’s current predicament, Democrats have a moral obligation to grapple with Bernie’s policy prescriptions and, failing better solutions, embrace them. Nitpicking his podcasts, pointing out inconsistencies in his endorsement record, and chiding him for not being a “real” Democrat serve only as distractions from this essential task.


    Here's a Prediction: This will be the most read and commented post over the next week. Bernie Sanders is a living political Rorschach test. Those on the left, who agree with him, can excuse any troubling statements, endorsements, and votes he's ever made to validate their support for him; Bernie is a politician without fault among his most loyal supporters. Inversely, to those who have been rubbed the wrong way by Bernie's supporters he can't do anything right. Some of this is the candidates fault. When a person claims the higher ethical and political ground people expect you to walk on it.  

    I'm posting this Friday at 2:17 pm EST. In less than 2 hours Hillary Clinton's name will be evoked and Northern progressives will engage in the 12,784 rendition of the Democrats lost the election during the primary. Somewhere around Sunday the blacks in the south who didn't vote for Sanders will be under the muffler with Hillary. This is a very well thought out piece. I'm not criticizing the piece; I'm criticizing the dialogue that's coming. If an almost Octogenarian is the future of the Democratic party what does that say about the rest of us?

    Good points, Danny, but I am not going to play.  I am over it.


    Agree. Would just add Trump voters are 100% behind Trump and his government of millionaires, billionaires, Goldman $achs executives, climate deniers and 1% tax cutters.

    They ignore that fact that he thought the Presidency would be "easy"


    Trump supporters are not bothered by ties to white supremacists in the administration 


    Four more years? Yikes...


    Given the evident urgency of humanity’s current predicament, Democrats have a moral obligation to grapple with Bernie’s policy prescriptions.

    They did and nominated Hillary.And she did well enough



    That is absolutely true.  Thanks for saying it.

    Here's a chant to bolster Bernie's courage and complete his message:

    Chant for Bernie:

    "What do we want?"

    "Political Revolution"

    "What's it against?"


    "When do we want it?"


    I don't know Alan MacDonald I really like Empire, Taraji P. Henson is fantastic on that show.

    "1) hosting a popular podcast allegedly characterized by shoddy production values and softball questions." - after the failure of Air America, it's fair to be concerned about our presentations and their effect. The Heineken ad of "all we need to do is have a beer together" ignores that even if that beer goes well, it's unlikely to change any of the entrenched positions and attitudes - as one gay singer noted her somewhat anti-gay manager's justification towards her, "but you're not one of *those* types of gays".

    If you're firmly in agreement with Bernie, you may not have a problem with Bernie inviting his favs to 'splain it all uninterrupted on their particular policy expertise. Others might appreciate more nuance and development, especially if these might be the underpinnings of a new Democratic direction. Even though my interview with Michael was fairly softball and not intended to provoke controversy, I still took the time to frame questions that would provide more insight into different aspects of his book - things he likely had already considered, and hopefully 1 or 2 that brought *him* to think deeper about his own topic.

    As for audio quality, well, yes, crappy sound will give an amateurish vibe to a performance. Perhaps that contributes to an "unrehearsed, tell it like it is" positive outcome, or perhaps it makes it easy to dismiss. But as someone who's done audio, I don't find too much merit in poor production values, even though I've occasionally had to accept them for various reasons.

    Just to let you all know this was linked to Reddit Way Of The Bern a few hours ago.  Danny is right with his prediction.  


    Hal, Thank you for the well written piece.  Someone found it and thought it was great and did the link.  You are more then welcome to introduce yourself to the group and share anytime your thoughts. 

    No, I think Danny was fortunately quite off-the-mark with his prediction. & besides Flavius' successful Eric piece, Armchair's bit on "Breaking: White Man..." keeps on giving, currently near 14,000 reads, with an impressively adult tone in the discussions.

    Thanks Momoe.  Your kind words and the link to Way of the Bern are greatly appreciated.  I will definitely introduce myself.

    Very much on topic:Why did Trump win? New research by Democrats offers a worrisome answer.

    By Greg Sargent @ The Washington Post, May 1 at 8:44 AM

    As the Democratic Party rebuilds itself for the 2018 and 2020 elections, Democratic strategists have been preoccupied with a pressing question: Why did so many voters who backed Barack Obama in 2012 switch to Donald Trump four years later, and what can be done to win them back?

    Top Democratic pollsters have conducted private focus groups and polling in an effort to answer that question, and they shared the results with me.

    One finding from the polling stands out: A shockingly large percentage of these Obama-Trump voters said Democrats’ economic policies will favor the wealthy — twice the percentage that said the same about Trump. I was also permitted to view video of some focus group activity, which showed Obama-Trump voters offering sharp criticism of Democrats on the economy.

    Priorities USA, the super PAC that is working to restore Democrats to power, conducted focus groups of Obama-Trump voters in Wisconsin and Michigan — two states that Trump snatched from Democrats — in late January and polled some 800 Obama-Trump voters nationally at around the same time. The pollsters also conducted focus groups with so-called drop-off voters — people who voted for Obama in 2012 but didn’t vote in 2016 — in the same states and polled 800 drop-off voters nationally.

    “[Hillary] Clinton and Democrats’ economic message did not break through to drop-off or Obama-Trump voters, even though drop-off voters are decidedly anti-Trump,” Priorities USA concluded in a presentation of its polling data and focus group findings, which has been shown to party officials in recent days.

    The poll found that Obama-Trump voters, many of whom are working-class whites and were pivotal to Trump’s victory, are economically losing ground and are skeptical of Democratic solutions to their problems. Among the findings:[.....]

    followed by bullet point list, more examples, and then a section sub-titled

    Hillary Clinton’s role, and that speech Barack Obama is set to give

    Trump voters are not rational. They support a man who is raising the costs of their mortgages and eradicating their healthcare. They didn't even realize that they were receiving Obamacare. Polling them results in gibberish.

    Ran across this op-ed at The Guardian which seems to unknowingly synch with some of the above:

    Barack Obama's $400,000 speaking fees reveal what few want to admit

    Lede: His mission was never racial or economic justice. It's time we stop pretending it was

    By Steven W. Thrasher, May 1

    [....] I will never deny the representational and psychological value of having had Obama in the Oval Office and his beautiful black family living in the White House. I always liked the guy immensely, even as I’ve criticized the politician.

    But when it comes to the economics of systemic racism, I don’t think anyone should earn $400,000 an hour, and I certainly don’t worry about criticizing black people also earning that obscene sum. I’m much more concerned with factors of economic racism such as why white people have 12 times the wealth of black people; why black families would need to work 228 years to build the wealth of white families; why the median wealth of single black women is $5 and how the economic crash of 2008 was an apocalyptic theft of wealth from black homeowners to Wall Street which was never prosecuted.

    Enter President Obama. As Robert Jones Jr, the writer and creator behind Son of Baldwin, noted, it’s significant that Obama’s first big talk was to a Wall Street gathering, considering it’s “the same Wall Street that he used our money to bail out and, in return, instead of lowering our credit interest rates and raising our savings interest rates, that same Wall Street raised our credit interest rates and lowered our saving interest rates for what was the definition of ungrateful”.

    Like so many people, when I campaigned for Obama before I was a journalist in 2008, I wanted him to take on the specific and persistent racial inequalities generated by American capitalism. I had read Dreams From My Father [.....]

    Took hm 9 years to figure it out? How the hell do these people survive in journalism with such a limited power of observation?

    I agree with your observation. To tell you the truth, since 2008, people who expected what Thrasher expected from Obama,  that always struck me as a kind of racism, it's like believing everyone with black skin must think like this and this about such and such. I am especially surprised he expected what he expected after reading Dreams from My Father.

    This is actually the thing that disturbed me most about 2008 Obamamaniacs back at TPM Cafe. I would think: he is half white, raised by whites, in an Asian country and then at a mixed race college prep school, where can all of this be coming from, the color of his skin?

    A couple other things raised for me by this piece....

    He uses "we" here:  It's time we stop pretending it was. I want to ask him (like I asked you the other day): who is "we"? Who does he think he is speaking for? I'm truly curious, it's not meant as snark.

    He makes the reference to Jimmy Carter's behavior post-office. That is one point I find thought-provoking. It brings up by comparison that the most successful aspirants to the office partly seem to have a driving need to play within the club of the financially powerful. While the rare few who actually are mainly driven because they mostly like managing policy and government for the common good are ironically seen as not too savvy politically. At first I think that must be due to Carter's religiosity, then I think of Truman and I think not. And I think of Bill Clinton as swinging back and forth between the two. And I think that Hillary by contrast does not enjoy playing with the financially powerful, but she thinks she must do it to do the policy thing.

    The expectation in 2008 among many black voters (and white ones too) - not an unreasonable one in my view - was that a black President would likely be outraged by America's extreme wealth inequality which finds people of color more likely to be on the short end of a stick wielded in large part by Wall Street, i.e., CEOs of integrated corporations, investment bankers, top corporate lawyers and accountants - the great majority of whom are white and male.  Such outrage would logically lead to appointments, policies, and legislation designed to reduce the outsize and extremely detrimental influence of the financial sector over the rest of us and therefore wealth and income inequality and poverty.

    I would think: he is half white, raised by whites, in an Asian country and then at a mixed race college prep school, where can all of this be coming from, the color of his skin?

    It wasn't just his skin that drew people; it was the things he stood for and talked about and had done in his life, e.g., community organizing. Someone identical to him in looks and background, but saying different things wouldn't have drawn liberals in nearly the same way.

    He broke the color line because, when people look at him, they see a "black person." That he's half white and lived in an Asian country and was brought up by a white mother and white grandparents isn't visible. The color line is simultaneously shallow--as shallow as one's outer epidermis--and deep--as deep as the beliefs and emotions white America (and black to some degree) attaches to the color of a person's skin.

    Thanks AA.  Great cites. 

    President Obama's record with respect to income and wealth inequality is mixed.  He definitely did some good things.  Though far from perfect, the Affordable Care Act has eased the burden on millions of Americans.  With respect to its flaws, one can fairly argue that Obama got the best deal he could through Congress given the antics of corporadem Max Baucus and corpor-independent Joe Lieberman.  Obama raised taxes on the rich and the stimulus did indeed stimulate the economy.

    But Obama pushed for more "free trade" which continues to devastate wide swaths of America.  He did not prosecute bankers for their fraudulent activities that tanked the economy.  Instead, he bailed them out - the same ones (or their cousins) who are now paying him an obscene amount of money for a 1-hour speech - while leaving underwater homeowners mostly underwater.  He also proposed cutting back on future social security payments.

    I am somewhat sympathetic to RMRD's broad argument that Trump supporters voted against their interest..  As I've noted elsewhere, Democrats have to be better - perhaps much better - than Republicans on economic issues to win elections since Republicans have the advantage of being much freer to appeal to people's worst instincts - racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia.

    In the end though, leaders need to lead.  We are facing two great, possibly existential, challenges - climate change and wealth and income inequality.  With respect to the latter crisis, Bernie's message is that he sides with poor, workers, and middle-class.  When Democratic leaders take ungodly amounts of money from Wall Street, they send a very different message.

    It is clear that Trump is mentally ill. That alone makes is hard to justify voting for Trump. If Trump voters see the Republicans as the better economic option, those voters are the problem, not the Democrats


    I don't get this Obama decision. I really don't. He has money, probably more than ever he expected to have. Why tarnish his legacy and undermine the Democrats with these horrible optics so soon after the end of his presidency?

    More broadly, it offers yet another example of the chronic myopia afflicting Democratic leaders. Too many Democrats seem to think that because their policies are obviously better for the working class, they don't have to worry about the optics. What do a few opulent Wall Street speeches matter when the Republicans want to kill unions and cut taxes for the rich?

    But as your link to Sargent's piece suggests, it matters. You can explain to someone ad nauseam about the benefits of your policies, but when they see you receiving lottery-size gifts from bankers, they make other assumptions about where your true loyalties lie.

    Doesn't it depend on what he plans to do with the money?

    Even crooks know you rob banks because that's where the money is.

    Arguably, isn't this better than Bernie buying himself a post-loss big ole house on a lake?

    Perhaps Democrats will have to go back to being mendicants in order to live up to our creed. At some point in the 1990s, Democrats figured that they kept losing big races because they were always outspent.

    But in the Internet age, maybe our candidates can simply follow the "$27 Rule." My question is, was this an appeal that just happened to fit the moment? Or is it replicable from here on out? If it is, then yes, we should probably adopt the rule.

    Maybe. But thinking way back to before we became fundraising monsters, I seem to remember that we were then  deemed too naive and inexperienced in the ways of the world to lead the country.

    "Yes, wouldn't it be wonderful if the world worked the way Democrats wanted it to work--but it doesn't. We need a man in the WH who knows what it means to meet a payroll, etc., etc."

    Or maybe we need to find candidates cut from the same cloth as Harry Truman.

    Sure, if Obama strolled into a hard-hit post-industrial town, threw the money in the air, and shouted, "I'm giving this dirty Wall Street cash back to the people!" that would send a different message. Even donating the proceeds to charity would help.

    You don't have to be working-class to appeal to the working-class, as Trump and FDR have demonstrated. But you do have to pay attention to how your actions are perceived by the working-class.

    Just to throw it into the mix, here's what Nathan Newman wrote on this on FB:

    "Obama- who is planning on devoting millions of dollars of personal income to help train young people as activists - is being slammed for raising the money that will pay for that work (and yeah financing his cool vacations).

    Now I don't love the source of the money for the Obama speech but I didn't necessarily love the hedge fund work that provided George Soros with his wealth, but happily took his money when I was doing non-profit fundraising - as do large chunks of non-profit groups many people love. A whole array of rich folks, alive and dead, fund the foundations that support the salaries of a wide range of progressive activists.

    Yes, there are compromises in taking any of that money -- Malcolm X was blistering on the compromises it imposed on the civil rights movement -- and I generally join left groups that are membership-funded and are not dependent on those corporate/rich folks' sources of money. I want to support the organizations that will fundamentally challenge capitalism and demand radical social change-- and you can't do that if you are taking corporate money.

    But does anyone think Obama is going to do that, whether he takes corporate money or not? Do people believe but for needing that corporate money, Obama would be raising the Marxist red flag and joining the barricades? I fully believe that Obama can do exactly the politics he wants to do and take all the corporate money he wants without a quid pro quo in sight, because his politics are good liberal politics that enough liberal corporate types are comfortable with that he can find the funding for the work he wants to do.

    Talking about optics is bullshit in my view. The reality is that the vast apparatus of the non-profit and Democratic party would cease operating without a lot of liberal-leaning corporate and rich persons' money. We may want that to change but beating up on Hillary and now beating up on Obama is kind of a stupid, self-defeating place to start. As Trump's election makes clear, merely beating up on progressive fundraising compromises just creates an opening for full-out, unembarrassed corruption to step into the breach.

    We need public financing of elections and we should promote a whole range of structures that self-fund progressive political groups (hint, this is one reason I am a big supporter of labor unions). We need to attack the real scandals of political corruption where quid pro quo lead to dirty deals on government outsourcing and privatization, in "pay to play" legislative deal-making and all of the nasty ways corporate money structures the game for the elite.

    But symbolic politics is an excuse not to have a real strategy. I think Jimmy Carter is a wonderful person and he's done some good things as an ex-President, but all the buildings he's hammered hasn't stopped the affordable housing crisis beating down family incomes across the country.

    Bandwidth for peoples' attention is limited so why not spend the time talking about building the organizations that can do the fundraising that can eliminate dependence on corporate-based fundraising? Talk about the local union organizing drive, highlight the strategies needed to pass public financing in your state, and build organizations raising money in the way we want.

    Supporting "good money" raised from the grassroots is the only way corporate money is going to get squeezed out of the political system. The reality is that all of the Bernie fundraising done over the last year - which was overwhelmingly soaked up by those cool glossy TV ads he ran - is a drop in the bucket of what's needed to support all the progressive activity needed out there. If the time and bandwidth spent complaining about Hillary and Obama fundraising was matched by coverage of new union membership organizing, I might not see it was so misplaced. But I haven't seen enough positive focus on alternative funding strategies to be excited about slagging allies over how they are raising the money they can.

    So leave me a a "meh" on the Obama speech -- and hope that people spend more time talking about how to strengthen unions and other membership-driven sources of progressive funding.

    Sorry for my primitive attempt at using the quote function, LOL.

    Peter, I'm tired of being accused of "beating up" Obama or Clinton. I'm not a cheerleader or a campaign spox, and it's not my job to whitewash their errors. Nathan doesn't believe optics matter. I do. And because I believe optics matter, I don't apologize for wasting people's precious "bandwidth" by writing about it on the internet.

    PS I fixed the quote for you

    I don't think it's just optics.  As I mentioned in my previous comment in this thread, I believe Obama's record when it comes to inequality is mixed.  There's much good in there but also much that is problematic - especially on trade and his reaction to the 2008 crash - as well.  People who perceive a message from Wall Street to future Presidents, go easy on us and we'll reward you handsomely, are not delusional.  By taking the money, Obama is saying that's a fair message to send and one that Democratic Presidents may well heed.

    Note: when do you capitalize democratic, democrat, and president?  I can't for the life of me figure that out.

    I agree that optics is not the only issue, but optics is what I'm focusing on at the moment.

    PS Capitalize Democratic whenever your refer to the party or its members. Use little-d democrat when referring to a form of government or its proponents.

    Obama- who is planning on devoting millions of dollars of personal income to help train young people as activists - is being slammed for raising the money that will pay for that work (and yeah financing his cool vacations).

    I didn't see much slamming in Nathan's post, Michael, and I didn't intend it that way. In fact, he suggests in the first paragraph that Obama plans to do what you suggest, though with a bit less sarcasm. I don't know whether Nathan is correct about what Obama IS going to do, however, which would be something to watch. In any event, I don't see you cheerleading. I'm just trying to have a convo...

    I mostly posted NM's piece because I thought he went into some substantive points on ways forward that folks might want to chew on. I agree with you (elsewhere) where you say the Democrats need a "core ideology" that they stand for, but the Bernie v Hillary family feud, I think, is fruitless. It's a rut.

    Optics is important, but I can't get worked up about this choice, even if it wasn't the right one optically. Plus, optics are ephemeral. As soon as you grok the moment, it's gone. In 2012, Trump tried the same game, but the optics were all wrong. And what should we do now to address the optics? Find a rich guy to run who can't be bought? Or find candidates who have no money? The problem with addressing optics is that it's like trying to catch the wind.

    If Newman is right about Obama, he's trying to make a real difference using the resources at his command.

    If there is any "chronic myopia" it's the lefty purist brigade thinking wearing monk habits and taking vows of poverty, or ranting about "millionaires and billionaires" will convince Trump's mobs to abandon him.  His government of billionaires, his golden bunker, and the very richly Koch/billionaire backed health care killing, 1% tax cutting GOP.

    Maybe Obama can use the money because he has been subsisting on a paltry 400K/year for 8 years.

    Almost all Presidents have done speeches for cash. And Carter's often unpaid endeavors and exemplary life is still derided and mocked by the gasbags of the right. The GOP would love it if Obama took vows of poverty. They would mock him endlessly saying it didn't make up for the huooooge damage he did to Murica.  All the TeeVee channels would give them airtime to say so. The voting landscape would not change.

    $400k is peanuts compared to the big time grifters in our political media complex.

    Like those who constantly attacked him in the right wing media empires.  Where the purveyors get tens of millions a year to misinform and spread division and hate, and sexual predators get 8 figure golden parachutes or the Presidency.

    And the MSM where the corporate news executive salaries are just as huge and generous as they push for rating$, controversy, and 'both siderism' nonsense.  Along with  worthless punditry from the likes of  Newt Gingrich, Ari Fleicher.  Peggy Noonan,  Joe Scarborough and long lists of highly paid Republican Party enablers.

    Sure, Obama's people can try to explain how normal it is to be paid $400,000 for a one-hour speech. But it wouldn't matter even if they were right. The damage is done. 

    PS The Obamas' income is far higher than the presidential salary

    It's a free country. Optically, purity zealots would need an electron microscope to blow this up to the scale of "the damage" that is being wreaked on the nation by the Trump administration and the GOP. And they do not seek purity, but power.

    I am starting to see that the optics of this particular meme is very very important in the current populist situation worldwide.Among voters who haven't the time to figure out how policy affects them, who don't have the time or ability to read news every day. Not just what we call "working class"  Also people whose jobs don't include a requrement to keep up with all of that.

    It's all about what is called "Wall Street".. It is a shorthand way of figuring out what is going on in the world. "Wall Street" is seen as running the world. It's the same appeal of conspiracy theories about the Trilateral Commission and black helicopters. It's why Occupy Wall Street at first had such great appeal. It's why protectionism has great appeal.

    This is why two billionaires, Trump and Bloomberg won, because they

    • partly fund their own campaigns
    • talk Independent of the two party's establishments
    • talk straight from their heart, damn what people might think
    • been there, done that already with "Wall Street," have enough money and have played that game, next up on my bucket list: to help you, the lowly voter who doesn't understand what goes on in these world power games

    Edit to add: this is Macron's problem in France right now, that he has not risen above being part of "Wall Street". And Bernie shows the other way that might work some if you are not a billionaire: message that you are Independent of the two party's machines and establishment. Comes to mind Kasich is doing this now. Comes to mind the Tea Party partly messaged this, too...

    Yeah, because if you can get "focus groups" and others to swallow Clinton Cash without comment (and have NY Times push it verbatim), of course you're going to believe Dems are worse than the GOP. I mean, there's no paradox between railing against money in politics and choosing a crooked NY businessman over someone who's promoting social programs.

    Where's the followup where they dig into *why* people believe this bullshit? well, that'd be too tough to figure out, but I have a guess - the news doesn't report, and the partisans manage to keep slinging shit.

    Here's a Time review of the Clinton Cash movie, which makes it sound like the book was super well written and superbly referenced, rather than a meager, thinly-veiled hit job full of inaccuracies and innuendo or bald lies.

    I don't care who the Democrats run in 2020 - it will be a repeat of smear and lies, but worse. It's one way they bounced back so quick after 2008.

    Yes, Republicans will smear no matter who runs, so I guess it doesn't matter what Democrats do. Might as well not bother to show up. 

    I got to go with Michael. Smearing is part of the democratic system that goes back to ancient Greece and Rome. You've got to know how to handle it to win. Your other option is to have literacy or poll testing for voters. If you believe in "one person, one vote" democracy, you have to deal with the effects of smearing.

    I admit that lately I have had more than two thoughts along the lines of "in this internet day and age" of being able to manipulate "the mob", maybe it would be better not to have "one person, one vote". And to have some kind of testing for voting. But then I am ashamed of myself when I think of all the dystopian results that could come of that, as presented in so much science fiction. No coincidence what just popped into my mind: these Keth Richards/Mick Jagger lyrics.

    We come to bury Caesar, not to praise him. Yes, Salt of the Earth has perhaps the strangest lyrics to come out of the Glimmer Twins, perhaps still inspired by Bulgakov's Master and Margarita and the abominated Russian Revolution.

    There's a couple smears here @ Pompeii: Graffiti, Signs & Electoral Notices

    like All the deadbeats and Macerius ask for Vatia as aedile

    but I recall reading of much worse in grad school and through a scholar friend, maybe not in Pompeii but elsewhere, stuff along the lines of, say, Vatia only fucks little boys

    And, ah yes, on "you say want a revolution?" You got me thinking not just of Russia but further, of old Monsieur l'Incorruptible and how In more recent times, his reputation has suffered as historians have associated him with an attempt at a radical purification of politics through the killing of enemies. What is "corruption" after all?

    Thanks PP.  Now I know that two of my favorite works of art - Sympathy for the Devil and the Master and Margarita - are closely connected with the latter inspiring the former.  I sure didn't know that until I started googling in response to your post.  Don't start asking me questions about the Bulgakov novel though even if I claim it as a favorite.  The only thing that stands out lucidly is a giant cat named Behemoth - and I probably got the name wrong.

    Curioysly I've never read Bulgakov. Inexcusable even.

    Why Can't the Left Win?

    By Conor Friedersdorf @ The Atlantic, May 4

    Advice and constructive criticism from observers who believe that America would benefit from a healthier opposition to the governing coalition

    Just offered as a read that you might want to know about. I found as it had rocketed to #2 on their "most popular" list, illustrated with a picture of Bernie.

    Thanks AA.  There's a lot of wisdom in this piece.

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