Sunday, April 10, 2016

You thought the leaden winter would bring you down forever

Bernie wins Wisconsin, 56.6%-43.1%, exceeding the polls. FiveThirtyEight showed a remarkable switch from giving Clinton an 83% probability of winning less than a week earlier, with a rapid turnaround as we got into April. (He was in Wyoming to announce it at a rally.)
* I don't suppose anyone really expects the same last-minute turnaround to happen in New York on 19 April, but Clinton's lead is narrowing....
* Bernie also won Wyoming, a big state with big precincts with not many people in them, 55.7%-44.3%. Curiously, however, Hillary gets the same number of delegates that Sanders does.

And, speaking of New York, the Bernie campaign made a reprise of their "America" video - only this time, for New York.

Not sure who the next president will be or for how long, but if we are still having elections after that, the next one has to be Elizabeth Warren. That video is so much fun!

Team Clinton must have decided that their email was running against refusing to debate Sanders in New York, since she'd already promised to do so. They 180'd and said they would debate - but they are using the DWS scheduling tool, apparently. Sanders released a statement: We are very pleased that Secretary Clinton finally has accepted our request for a debate about the needs of New York and America. Unfortunately, the dates and venues she has proposed don't make a whole lot of sense. The idea that they want a debate in New York on a night of the NCAA finals - with Syracuse in the tournament no less - is ludicrous. We have proposed other dates which they have rejected. We hope we can reach agreement in the near future. The people of New York and America deserve to see and hear a debate on the important issues facing the state and country" Wil Wheaton had a nice little tweet summing up the debate about debates.
* They did finally agree to a date, on April 14th, but it won't be open to the public. "Sources said each candidate will receive a private allocation of tickets to Thursday night's showdown that will be televised live on CNN and NY1. It remains unclear how each campaign plans to distribute those tickets. Representatives for the Clinton and Sanders campaigns did not respond to requests for comment."

The Sanders campaign apparently got stupid again and talked to the NYT about campaign strategy. This is always a mistake and they should stop doing it. "But allies and advisers of Mr. Sanders say they missed opportunities to run an aggressive political operation in 2015 that would have presented more of a challenge to Mrs. Clinton. She has now firmly built a big lead in delegates needed to clinch the nomination - a margin that would be smaller if Mr. Sanders had run differently last year, according to interviews with more than 15 people who are on his team or close to him." That's 15 blabbermouths who need to be told. And anyway, I think they're wrong. Greg Sargent agrees with me - so there.

And this is the video and transcript of The Daily News interview with Bernie Sanders. Regardless of what you may have read in the press, it was not at all a bad interview, although Sanders did not realize that tokens are no longer used on the New York Subway. Bear in mind that a lot of these, though they seem reasonable, are gotcha questions, and the editors who interviewed him either didn't understand his answers or were trying to make him look like he had never thought about these things. (And one question, well, Bernie is hamstrung as long as he can't just say, "Because Barack Obama protected the criminals.") But most people seeing this interview won't be thinking of those things, and to a lot of people - and, unfortunately, journalists - it looks bad that he didn't appear to answer those questions. Except, he did answer the questions, as Mike Konczal points out - it's just that the journalists didn't know what he was talking about - or, indeed, what they. were talking about, such as that it's pretty hard to know what a judicial decision (MetLife) is going to mean when it's been sealed and no one can read it. Or maybe they did know and were trying to trip him up. But all this raises the question of who wrote the interview questions, and whether it was someone who knew that the right answers would appear wrong to people who didn't understand this stuff. Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian of The Young Turks think the whole thing was a set-up. Apparently, Hillary Clinton doesn't know much about these issues, either, because she seemed to imply that it all made him #unqualified. (And then there was this, which some nitwit confused with "blood libel.")
* Incidentally, Ryan Grim even remembered that Hillary must know better, because she has said the same thing - but only to attack reinstatement of Glass-Steagall.
* And yes, asserting that a few journalists who support Clinton might be less knowledgeable about how to break up the banks than people who are experts in the field really does get you the "Oh, you're right and everyone else is wrong" treatment. Which has been the general tone of Clinton supporters all along. How'd that happen?
* Matt Taibbi on "Why the Banks Should Be Broken Up [...] The typical arc of this scam went as follows: Giant bank lends money to sleazy mortgage originator, mortgage originator makes lots of dicey home loans, the dicey home loans get sold back to the bank, the bank pools and securitizes the loans, and finally the bank sells the bad merchandise off to an unsuspecting investor. The criminal scenario that was most common was a gigantic bank buying up huge masses of toxic loans from a Countrywide or some other fly-by-night operation and knowingly selling this crap as a good investment to some investor."
* Krugman has gone so partisan for Hillary that Bill Black reckons Krugman's first post of this month was an April Fool's gag. It's hard to disagree, given that the same man who today argues that the big banks aren't a problem wrote in 2009 that "The collapse of Lehman Brothers almost destroyed the world financial system, and we can't risk letting much bigger institutions like Citigroup or Bank of America implode."

"The Disappearance of Hillary Clinton's Healthcare Platform: In an extraordinary magic trick, performed on a national scale, Hillary Clinton's healthcare platform has been disappeared. While policy analysts, news anchors, and columnists have been engaged in an intense debate over Bernie Sanders's 'Medicare for All' proposal, Clinton's incremental alternative has escaped almost all scrutiny - even among those who say they prefer it. Combining the election-season writings of our most prolific, liberal-leaning columnists at the New York Times, Huffington Post, Vox, Mother Jones, Politico, The American Prospect, etc. you'll find dozens of articles critiquing Sanders's single-payer plan. None have mentioned a single Clinton healthcare proposal as a point of comparison - merely that she supports a philosophy of incremental reform. [...] What would happen if the media lifted the curtain on Clinton's healthcare platform and introduced any level of scrutiny to her proposed improvements on the Affordable Care Act? They would find two categories of Clinton proposals: some that are so vague they're difficult to evaluate, and other more concrete plans that follow in the footsteps of one of Congress's most practiced healthcare incrementalists: Senator Bernie Sanders. [...] Previous national trends in incremental healthcare reform - from managed care through pharmacy benefit management, chronic disease management, narrow networks, and beyond - have often created lucrative new industries, but had dubious impacts on underlying healthcare costs or access to care. Most of Clinton's healthcare platform falls exactly into these danger zones, and should be received with a critical eye."

Max Sawicky says, "Hillary's getting a huge free ride on her purported mastery of the mechanics of policy, in contrast to Bernie. I decided to look into just one of her campaign initiatives. She likes to throw around the phrase 'universal child care' or 'universal pre-K.' But she isn't proposing universal either. She's proposing new money for pre-K, which is fine, but a) false advertising, and b) it's not clear how it would 'work.' [...] The rub is that they are no more specific or rigorously motivated than the Sanders proposals that people have been blathering about. [...] Note that bumping up Head Start does not get you to universal either. It's fine, but Head Start is a tiny program, relative to the relevant population. How to 'pay for it'? Forget it. They don't say, not that I care. All the critics of 'unpaid-for' single-payer BernieCare evidently don't care either. Criticisms of Sanders' vagueness on policy can be applied to HRC as well, if one delves just a little bit. I look forward to all the deep-dive analyses of HRC's projected path to universal health care coverage. Are there any? Why not? Because Hillary advocates are too busy blathering about Bernie. Those with policy expertise don't apply it to Hillary's treacle."

Another meme that's going around is that Bernie never works for downticket candidates and he didn't even work for the more progressive judge running against an extremist right-wing partisan in Wisconsin - but it just isn't true.

Greenpeace has been asking the same question of Hillary Clinton about her relationship to the fossil fuel industry, for a long time, but now when they ask it, she pretends it's "the Sanders campaign lying about me" - but that has nothing to do with it.
* Naomi Klein: "The Problem With Hillary Clinton Isn't Just Her Corporate Cash. It's Her Corporate Worldview. Clinton is uniquely unsuited to the epic task of confronting the fossil-fuel companies that profit from climate change."
* Funnily enough, it used to be a normal Democratic criticism of Republicans, but apparently it's a different matter when Democrats do it and Bernie Sanders asks why.

Hillary tries to charm young Bernie voters some more by stupidly insulting them: "Hillary: 'I Feel Sorry' for the Young People Who Believe Sanders Camp's Lies: I feel sorry sometimes for the young people who, you know, believe this. They don't do their own research. And I'm glad that we can now point to reliable independent analysis to say no, it's just not true." Yes, those poor little kiddies have never heard of Google.

At least the surrogates were civil in New Haven, and so was everyone else.

This piece is wonderfully sarcastic, but it's exactly what people don't want to admit they are saying when they suggest that Clinton's foreign policy experience is "better" than Bernie's: "Sorry Bernie Bros, Your Candidate Just Doesn't Have The Foreign Policy Experience Necessary To Prop Up A Pro-Western Dictatorship. [...] Argue all you want, but the bottom line is that Sanders has repeatedly failed to demonstrate the deep grasp of international affairs that a president needs to install politically expedient totalitarian regimes abroad. Sure, he can speak abstractly about international relations, but enabling the rise of the next Pinochet requires a lot more than abstractions. For that, you need actual diplomatic chops and hands-on experience supporting tyrannical despots, and that's where Sanders would be way out of his depth. I'm just being pragmatic here. Even the most fanatical Bernie Bro has to admit their hero knows nothing about the real-life challenges a president faces when undermining established foreign governments. The tough truth is that no amount of high-minded rambling about free college tuition can put machine guns into the hands of juntas sympathetic to U.S. strategic goals." Well, you have to admit, if by "experience with foreign policy" you mean undermining democracies and supporting coups and dictators, Hillary is indeed the one with foreign policy chops.

Clinton surrogate and financial industry shill Barney Frank has been running around insulting Sanders again, so RJ Eskow wrote, "Barney vs. Bernie: Sanders is the Real 'Progressive Who Gets Things Done' [...] Here's the truth: Hillary Clinton got very little done during her eight years in the United States Senate, while Bernie Sanders amassed an impressive record of accomplishments in both the House and Senate. [...] Before Barney Frank repeats his unfounded attacks on Bernie Sanders' record, he may want to take a second look at his own."
* Clinton isn't being quite accurate about Bernie and guns, either.

"Hillary is sick of the left: Why Bernie's persistence is a powerful reminder of Clinton's troubling centrism"

David Brock puts out an ad equating Sanders with Dick Cheney and Wayne LaPierre.

Riding to the rescue, Bill Clinton unites the party in wanting him to shut up and stop ruining everything. Hillary has had to work hard to put distance between herself and the right-wing dialogue that inspired the horrible criminal justice approach from the Clinton administration, and he just got up there and undid all her work.

The New York Times tells everyone to cool it.

Meanwhile, Bernie says he'll fight at the convention for a better platform.

Howie Klein, "Still Don't Know For Sure Who Beat Harry Reid Within An Inch Of His Life And Got Him To Retire But..." he and his "centrist" pals would do anything to keep progressives out of Congress.

Another chapter from Thomas Frank's Listen Liberal, "The Democrats own this mess too: Gerrymandering and obstructionism alone can't explain American inequality: Progressives are told time and again that Clinton and Obama are the best their party can do. It's a total crock."

"How Hillary Clinton is Like a Shitty Mechanic [...] Every pundit trying to paint Clinton as a pragmatist is selling me on my own shitty car. They're the bankrupt mechanic who needs you to buy one last round of repairs. Don't give up on the thing, they say. They don't really care what's best for you. The car's already in the shop, they say. One more go, for old time's sake? Think of all the progress this car has gotten you. Don't get all crazy thinking about a new car when you can sink a few thousand bucks into this shitbucket. As Lee Fang reported in The Intercept, most of the pundits being called on to talk about Clinton are quite literally in her employ. They run consulting firms that the Clinton campaign pays to advise them. They would be bad at their jobs if they told you to buy a new car. No, they're going to tell you how great your shitty car is. Or that you're not ready for a new car. Or that the world is not ready for everyone to drive good cars. Or elderly Blacks in the South drive shitty cars so your new car is somehow racist. Whatever it takes to get you to sign on to pay for the same old shit."

Let's be frank about this. Yes, the right wing wants to create division among Democrats and weaken the presumptive nominee in the general election. But that's not the real problem. The problem is that it's actually harder to attack Clinton from the right than from the left, because there isn't enough distance between her and the right to shoot from on economic issues. If she didn't leave so much room on the left to attack her from, Karl Rove and his friends would not be able to do it. It always requires a lot less creativity to be able to critique her on something that's true rather than have to make up lies (as they spent the '90s doing). Clinton's relationship with all of the wrong people is too cozy and all of the on-the-ground indicators are that she will go back to supporting odious ideas like TPP once she is in the White House. Look at that equivocal answer she gave on fracking - asking if you support fracking is much the same as being asked, "Do you support poisoning the groundwater and causing earthquakes in your town?" But she couldn't bring herself to oppose it. Her own policies and actions make her an easy target. Admonishing the left not to believe right-wing memes because they emanate from the right-wing is disingenuous when the critiques actually originate on the left and the charges are true. The issue isn't that Sanders supporters are dumb, it's that you have a bad candidate.

Pierce: "Your Taxes Are Being Spent on Making It Harder for Americans to Vote."

Scandal weekend: Two big scandals that lay bare the structure of global corruption.
* "Unaoil's Huge New Corporate Bribery Scandal, Explained [...] Unaoil and its subcontractors bribed foreign officials to help major multinational corporations win contracts, tens of thousands of the company's internal documents show. The investigation illustrates just how complicit big Western companies are in corruption overseas. It also shows that by enabling corruption, these companies fuel the kind of political instability that allows insurgencies like the self-described Islamic State to grow."
* "The Panama Papers - What Happens When Corruption Is Systemic: Over the weekend, an historic release of information came out in the Panama Papers showing exactly who, how, and when a vast network of people stole and hoarded money. Our minds easily grok the realities of Vladimir Putin embezzling a billion dollars through offshore accounts or the Prime Minister of Iceland stealing cash from public coffers. Where we fail more easily is visualizing the system of shell companies, accounting tools, trade regimes, tax havens, and legislative changes that make up the system of wealth extraction all of these individuals are using in collaboration with their partners in crime. As the media is quite likely to frame the Panama Papers as a few bad apples using legal financial instruments, I would like to offer an alternative that keeps our mental eye on the ball. What really matters is the architecture of wealth extraction that has been systematically built up in every country around the world."
* "What are the Panama Papers? A guide to the biggest data leak in history" Hiding money, laundering money, you name it - and even David Cameron's father are involved.
* Craig Murray, "Corporate Media Gatekeepers Protect Western 1% From Panama Leak"
* Marc Wheeler, "Why Do They Call It Panama Papers, Anyway?"
* "How the U.S. became one of the world's biggest tax havens"
* "Bernie Sanders Predicted Panama Papers Scandal back in 2011!" - he objected to the Panama "free trade" agreement.

Don't forget to check out the Water Cooler at Naked Capitalism, where there are always loads of links like these about the latest on TPP, corruption, money-laundering, mortality rates, suicide rates, you name it.

David Dayen, "Why Are Voters Angry? It's the 1099 Economy, Stupid. [...] But The New York Times's Neil Irwin might have found an answer last week, when he pointed to eye-opening new research from Princeton's Alan Krueger and Harvard's Lawrence Katz on Americans in alternative work arrangements, which they defined as 'temporary help agency workers, on-call workers, contract workers, and independent contractors or freelancers.' This cohort of the workforce grew from 10.1 percent in 2005 to 15.8 percent at the end of 2015, representing an increase of 9.4 million workers. That's all of the growth in the labor market over the past decade."

"Solving the Mystery of the Schools: In recent years, American public education has been swamped by bad ideas and policies. Our national leaders, most of whom were educated at elite universities and should know better, have turned our most important domestic duty into a quest for higher scores on standardized tests. While it is true that students must do well on standardized tests to enter universities, few of the better universities judge students' knowledge and ability solely by such flimsy measures. Thus it is puzzling why public officials have made test scores the purpose of education."

"The Origins of Totalitarianism: Conclusion [...] Polanyi says that when a social structure imposes too much stress on too many people it has to change. We don't know how many disaffected people there are In the US, but it is clear that there is an enormous number, in both parties and among the unaffiliated, and that change will come. The US has always prided itself on its openness to change. We believe that everything will work out for the best, because we are the exceptional people, the City on the Hill. We assume that change will be for the best. Arendt points out the sickening reality: some changes are deadly."

No surprises here:
* "Study finds police fatally shoot unarmed black men at disproportionate rates."
* "Stereotype Shattered as New Study Finds White Youth Are More Likely Than Blacks to Abuse Hard Drugs."

"The Fall of King Coal: After 29 men died in his company's mine, Don Blankenship is fighting to stay out of prison. But he already won the battle to convert coal country to his brand of conservative politics."

"Mo. Supreme Court: Voter ID law is unconstitutional: In a 6-1 decision, the Supreme Court of Missouri struck down the state's voter identification law Monday. Supreme Court Judge Stephen Limbaugh Jr. cast the dissenting vote. Senate Bill 1014, signed into law June 14 by Gov. Matt Blunt, required Missourians to show a valid federal or state-issued photo ID to vote this November. Monday's decision upholds a September ruling by Cole County Circuit Judge Richard Callahan that the ID requirement was an unconstitutional infringement on the right to vote."

"Today in the UK, a woman was sentenced for the crime of an abortion - yet we act outraged at Donald Trump: She desperately tried to save up enough money to travel to England to have an abortion, but wasn't able to. Her housemates reported her to the police."

Jimmy Carter: U.S. Is an 'Oligarchy With Unlimited Political Bribery'

For April 1st, The Talking Dog departed from his usual habit of (really) interviewing people who were directly involved with Guantanamo, and applied his format to Donald Trump.

'Generic presidential campaign ad' mocks political cliches

"In Blow to Big Pharma, Treasury Cracks Down on Corporate Tax Dodgers: New rule would 'wipe out the expected tax breaks Pfizer was counting on' from its $150 billion mega-merger: Issuing what some called a death blow to the proposed $150 billion merger between pharmaceutical giants Pfizer and Allergan, the U.S. Treasury Department late Monday proposed new tax regulations aimed at cracking down on so-called corporate inversions. Corporate inversions allow U.S. businesses to avoid paying U.S. taxes by claiming foreign citizenship. The merger between Viagra-maker Pfizer Inc. and Allergan PLC, which manufactures Botox, would have been "the largest inversion ever," according to the Wall Street Journal, allowing Pfizer to profit from a lower corporate tax rate in Allergan's home country of Ireland."

"Two Losses for Bosses: SCOTUS Rules Against Walmart, Wells Fargo in Class-Action Suits: The Supreme Court made more decisions unfavorable to corporate executives in the wake of Antonin Scalia's death. Justices declined on Monday to hear appeals by Walmart and Wells Fargo in moves that upheld two nine-figure class action judgments that went against the multinational giants." This would almost certainly have been heard and overturned with Scalia still on the court, and Obama's nominee has a history of being unsympathetic to unions as well, so this was probably the best possible timing.

"Gov. Rick Snyder sued by hundreds of Flint residents over poisoned water supply: Republican Gov. Rick Snyder is the main target of a federal racketeering lawsuit over the Flint water crisis." RICO can be used for good. (Get the banksters next!)

We nominate our Lois Lane Award choice: "9-year-old journalist, chided for breaking murder story, puts critics in their places: Hilde Kate Lysiak received a tip, hustled to the scene, and beat all local journalists with the news of a murder by posting a short story and video online. Unfortunately for her competitors and critics, Lysiak is a nine-year-old third grader. Lysiak was recently profiled in The Washington Post and the journalism prodigy already has thicker skin than most adult reporters. Locals bashed Lysiak on Facebook Sunday night after she broke her big story. One person said they are 'disgusted that this cute little girl thinks she is a real journalist,' before asking, 'what happened to tea parties?' Another said Lysiak should be 'playing with dolls.' Lysiak was not only unfazed, but fired back. 'If you want me to stop covering the news, then you get off your computers and do something about the news. There, is that cute enough for you?'"

Chile students' debts go up in smoke: Artist named Fried Potatoes removed tuition contracts he says were worth up to $500m from private university and burned them."

"Meet a Doctor Who Provides Abortion Services BECAUSE of His Christian Faith"

Nice shirt.

* Winston Moseley, Who Killed Kitty Genovese, Dies in Prison at 81, at Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, N.Y. after nearly 52 years imprisonment. Everyone who has ever studied sociology or psychology must know this story, but very possibly you have it all wrong.
* Merle Haggard, Country Music's Outlaw Hero, Dies at 79: "Merle Haggard, one of the most successful singers in the history of country music, a contrarian populist whose songs about his scuffling early life and his time in prison made him the closest thing that the genre had to a real-life outlaw hero, died at his ranch in Northern California on Wednesday, his 79th birthday."

"Why it's OK to give to homeless drug addicts: If a person living on the streets decides to spend your money on drugs or alcohol, it's none of your business." I can't tell you how strongly I agree with this. And yes, I have had someone walk up to me and thank me for having given them a quid a time or two last year, and tell me they've gotten themselves together since, and that they are grateful for people like me who helped them in the interim.

"Could mushrooms be a secret weapon for disaster relief?"

The Real Difference Between Brown Eggs vs White Eggs - Actually a bunch of different things about eggs, including the egg-scare. I admit to getting bored before I read to the end, but I didn't see a place where they noted that the yolk is where the protein is and the white has more carbs.

"See inside the 'secret' Victorian station left abandoned in London."

"Mathematicians mapped out every Game of Thrones relationship to find the main character."

How to tell the new Star Wars film was shot at Canary Warf

Lois Lane versus Brainiac

"Tales of Brave Ulysses"


  1. Getting over a campaign isn't easy, as I've learned from being part of several. Always some one will be going on about how if everyone had just done it the way they thought (no way of establishing whether or not that actually happened) the win would have been achieved.
    My advice of choosing the right candidate also made folks mad.

  2. Re the giving money to the homeless, I recall a relevant quote (to which I hope someone can direct me to the source). As near as I can remember and I know it's not exact but is close enough for the sense of it, it went like this:

    Our protagonist gave money to a beggar only to be chastised by a companion who said "he will only waste it on drink or tobacco."

    "So what if he does?" came the reply. "Life is hard enough that none of us can face it without gilding, but it is only the poor we expect to face it full bore with nothing to ease the burden."

  3. Oh, and thanks for the link to "Tales of Brave Ulysses." I had forgotten how much I liked that piece.