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February 05, 2016



This is beneath you, or so I once thought. Very disappointing.


yeah, I've been
too long in the wasteland
too long in the wasteland
I believe I'll have to stay

Peter G

We get it. Bernie is the most honorable man who ever lived. He didn't take one nickel from the NRA. He caved into them as a matter of principal.


P.M., your argument against Bernie's candidacy is sound, and I happen to agree with it. At the same time, I'm really thankful he's running. Can you imagine how intellectually boring the Democratic side of this election would be without him? The contest between the two is presenting us with all sorts of political dialectics that are healthy and important for Democrats to think about. Class struggle vs. identity politics, unwavering idealism vs. compromising pragmatism, etc. The thing is, neither is really "wrong." Also, assuming Hillary's the nominee, this is really good for her; it's forcing her to sharpen her rhetoric and become a better candidate. From my perspective, she's improved quite a bit from six months ago. (That said, her claim that she's not an "establishment candidate" because she's a woman was typical Clinton b.s.)

Peter G

So here's where I make everyone mad. Citizens United is utterly irrelevant. If anything it has, in the short term, harmed the interests of the right far more than the interests of the left. That is something so obvious that anyone should be able to see it. Citizen United has only degraded centralized party control of campaign money and made party discipline impossible to enforce. Anyone who thinks that will only afflict the Republicans is fooling themselves. So get rid of it and restore the previous system and then both parties and their establishments will be greatly pleased for they will be back in the driver's seat.

You may well criticize the impossibility of securing a repeal of Citizens United for it is nearly impossible in the foreseeable future. I am in favor of repeal as well but that's because I think parties need to have more centralized control. Without out the stick it gives them people like Pelosi will be as helpless as Ryan is. And if Bernie thinks that would make his vision more achievable he is dead wrong. For those special interests will always remain and their power will in some measure be restored.

Now to special interests and the cesspool that is Washington. Nothing is more popular on the left or the right than lamenting the evil beings called lobbyists. So which ones are evil? The lobbyists the AFL-CIO employ? AARP? The ACLU? The Audubon Society? Planned Parenthood Parenthood? Those are all special interests that constantly lobby Washington politicians. Surely they are not evil?

If not them then it must be trade association lobbyists who are evil. Surely it is these bastards who are trying to crush the American people. Well no. Not if you happen to be employed at any level in the industry in who's interests they are lobbying. Like say the automobile manufacturers organization. Or the movie industry. Or any industry. The basic assumption seems to be that they act in concert to do evil. That is bullshit. If you happen to be a congressman in or around Detroit you better be prepared to listen to both the automobile manufacturers and the UAW for neither can exist without the other. Nor could they exist without Mobile and Exxon.

Even within any given industry there is seldom perfect commonality of interests. Take forestry for example. In the eastern US timber stands are mostly privately held and to get the best price for their asset they like to keep out foreign lumber and force higher stumpage fees on timber controlled by the BLM. That would of course hurt the interests on lumber workers in the west. And of course it is completely at odds with the interests of the American Homebuilders Association which is fully aware that higher lumber costs hurt them and construction workers. You can parse any set of industry interests you like and you will find the same battles being waged. And every single one is also lobbying incidentally on behalf of the workers they employ.

Who thinks the construction associations and the asphalt association and the concrete association and the steel manufacturers are lobbying against a massive investment in rebuilding and extending infrastructure (as Bernie and Hillary both demand). And who imagines that this won't result in greater oil consumption for none of this can be done without that.

Bernie sells his own kind of oil. It is called snake oil. For when he says that the power of the oil industry is what prevents us from implementing technology that does not exist while at the same time demanding that investments be made that will dramatically increase green house gas emissions he is talking out of both sides of his face. And when he asserts he has some magic formula for restoring American manufacturing you might want to ask what those manufacturers will be using to make things if he could do it. Pretty much all of it is going to include oil and energy. Where people imagine asphalt to rebuild roads comes from I do not know. Nor how to make concrete and steel without massive amounts of energy.

Such are the myths that dreamers tell themselves, that the brilliant future they have been denied is the result of evil doers. Yet when you dive into the facts you find is is mostly just horseshit.


Like all Bernie's issues, Citizens United is a symbolic placeholder for an aspect of democratic socialism. It's a challenge to create a more democratic union. It's populism, which some around here are not wild about, but it serves the purpose of a rallying point for a significant number of voters of all parts of the spectrum.

At times it seemed last night's debate could not have been better scripted. Hillary did not seem inevitable. Bernie did not seem like a member of the Politbureau and raised important issues that Hillary agreed with just enough while kicking Bernie daintily in the groin. The Democrats might actually be acting like a 21st century political operation.

Peter G

I would say she is the ultimate establishment candidate. And I would also say that is exactly what the Democratic party needs in the event that down ticket victories change the make up of the House and/or Senate to a sufficient degree to make any significant legislation possible. The current primary battles make that less likely in my opinion. Nietzsche was full of crap. What does not kill you only makes you weaker and easier to kill later. (See Republican party) This was going to happen anyway so there's no use crying about it. Perhaps some good will come of it down the road but it could easily go the other way and disaffect yet another generation. Or rather infect them with the very mistaken belief that politics is about dreams. I finally made up my mind that Hillary was the only way to go when I saw the video of her meeting with the BLM activists. She go it. Politics is not about changing hearts and minds. It is about changing laws and polices.

Peter G

And I agree with you. A lot of these positions are purely symbolic. Unlimited money in politics essentially causes a type of inflation in the cost of securing a seat. Chasing the money consumes ever greater time , the one thing of which we all have a limited supply, and focuses legislative efforts on things that are good for fundraising like abortion as opposed to things that are frankly more urgent. And Bernie is committing the same sin when he chases symbols and money. You'll notice that he's still chasing money. He has a perfect right to do this and nothing I could possibly say will change that for no politician in history has ever delivered more than they promised. I don't see any moral superiority in it however.


If you're looking for morality I suggest you look at other than *political* philosophy, Peter. After all, the holy writing is 'The Prince'. Morality is secondary to politics, which is the art of the possible. It would be difficult to name a moral politician. Even Gandhi had some nasty habits.

Tom Benjamin

I agree right down the line. We all have interests that are special. The art of politics is building coalitions of those interests - often temporary coalitions - to accomplish things for the greater good. Sometimes otherwise friendly interests are pitted against each other. Sometimes there are strange bedfellows. That is politics.

Oh, and we need the establishment. It is the establishment that understands how things work and how things that have to get done, actually do get done. For all his years in Congress, what can Bernie point to as actual honest to goodness accomplishments?

I don't have any real problem with most of Bernie's fantasies - they are laudable goals for the most part - but on this issue he is very dangerous to the Democratic party. He is running against the party.

If Hillary is corrupt, then every Democrat running for office is tarred with the same brush. If he is the nominee, they either try to raise money like Bernie - they'll be crushed - or they have to run away from the top of the ticket. On the other hand if Bernie loses, half his followers will turn cynical and drop out or turn libertarian.

Peter G

It is a strange theory is it not that animates many of Bernie's ardent supporters? That he disdained to ever join the Democratic party for he did not wish to make the ideological compromises that would entail. Yet somehow should he be elected to become the de facto leader of that party he will not need to bend those stern principals or he will depending on the interviewer. I think he needs to have a long heartfelt talk with that fellow Obama. If he did succeed he would have to bend and I don't see that he has much practice doing it.


The more I see of Clinton, the less impressive I find her as a candidate and a politician. I can easily see her timid, paranoid approach to politics losing to a Republican who has a story to tell and tells it halfway decently. At this point, all Clinton is offering is the claim that she "gets things done" (for which there is frankly very little evidence), the claim that she is progressive because she would be the first woman president (and what would that argument have made Palin if McCain had won and promptly croaked?), and that she can somehow work with Republicans (who have, lest we forget, spent a couple of decades demonizing her as the Wicked Witch of the Deepish South and would be more likely to roll out prayer mats and face Mecca than to embrace anything like the policies Clinton claims to favor). I know you are anxious about Bernie, PM, but I feel extremely nervous when I contemplate the idea of HRC trudging grimly round the country on her magical mystery tour and spamming the electorate with all manner of empty pledges and pleas for money. As far as I can see, she's the Democratic Mitt Romney, but with not quite so many strapping sons.

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