SAME OLD STORIES: Encouraged to loathe the lesser evil!

FRIDAY, MAY 29, 2015

Part 5—Still evil after all these years:
If we lived in Putin’s Russia, or in the world of Winston Smith, the State Journalistic Mental Health Squad might take [Name Withheld] away.

His letter appears in this morning’s Washington Post. His type of mental illness is clear—he can’t internalize the story-lines which are preferred by the Marcus Bruni Official Group Insight Brigade:
LETTER TO THE WASHINGTON POST (5/29/15): Ruth Marcus noted in her May 24 op-ed column, “Clinton’s unseemly speechifying,” that people from whom Hillary Clinton takes money in exchange for speeches may be seeking to curry favor with her in her future role.

How is the expectation of the person or company who pays for a speech or the position of the speaker any different from the normal relationship between a major donor and the candidate recipient in our political system, particularly after Citizens United? Is the suspicion that there is a quid pro quo any different?

Reuters reported in April that billionaire Florida auto dealer Norman Braman, a former supporter of Jeb Bush, promised that Sen. Marco Rubio “will have the resources necessary to run a first-class campaign.”

The difference between the suspicions created or perceptions of inappropriate influence when a company pays for a speech and when a billionaire funds a campaign escapes me.

[Name Withheld], Potomac
You’re right. That letter is sad.

The writer starts by slandering Candidate Rubio. He then confesses his own mental disorder:

The difference between speaking fees and campaign contributions “escapes” him, the writer admits!

Such obvious mental disorder shouldn’t be ignored. The possibility exists that [Name Withheld] could write another letter someday about some other column in which Marcus tries to help us rubes ingest Official Insider Group Thinking.

In Putin’s Russia, the Marcus-Bruni Clear Thinking Van would take [Name Withheld] away. Before that happens, let’s get clear on what this lost soul has said.

Sadly, pitifully really, [Name Withheld] says this:

The possible influence of big money is found all through our political system. In many ways, the influence of big money isn’t a mere “possibility.” The actual rule of big money is clear as powerful industries write the industry-friendly legislation which then sails through the Congress.

Why do Americans pay two to three times as much, per person, for health care as citizens of other developed nations? This looting is an obvious offshoot of the role big money plays in fashioning legislation.

In our view, all that is implied by what [Name Withheld] wrote. As he flailed in a clear call for help, he restricted himself to a simpler point:

Presumably, big campaign contributors may seek favors from the pols to whom they contribute. But Marcus doesn’t seem to write about that! Her suspicions only seem to be aroused by speaking fees. And only when the fees go to You Know Who, of whom she says she’s “a fan!”

(In fairness, Marcus also becomes suspicious when donations go to a certain foundation so the needs of suffering children around the world can be met. That seems to trigger her too.)

Marcus finds her “hair on fire” when someone restores the hearing of children in the third world. But how strange! She doesn’t have a word to say about donations to people like Rubio. She doesn’t discuss the way the whole country is getting looted through the ridiculous costs of our industry-gimmicked health care.

Just a guess—her owners don’t like discussions like that! But, for the past twenty years, they’ve loved and enjoyed all manner of shrieking about You Know Who and her spouse.

Plainly, [Name Withheld] should be led away for his own good. He keeps thinking he sees connections where the Bruni Marcus Gang has declared that connections don’t exist and therefore shouldn’t be noticed.

He imagines a broader set of concerns about big money in our politics. Just a guess:

He might even think that someone like Marcus should focus on real abuses, abuses which have actually occurred, instead of pimping “suspicions” about uranium deals which no one seemed to think were scary at the time—uranium deals in which there is no evidence that You Know Who was involved.

[Name Withheld] should be led away, letting people like Marcus and Bruni continue their decades of work. That said, let’s consider a familiar old story which emerged in the comments to Bruni’s recent column—his column about the rapacious You Know Who and her rapacious husband, who insists on restoring kids’ sight.

As several commenters noted, Bruni’s column was rather poorly reasoned. Unfortunately, a boatload of readers seemed to swallow a central item of BruniThink, a pellet which was clearly implied by his weak-minded work.

In comments, the second commenter quickly gave voice
to Bruni’s pellet of thought. By a wide margin, his comment was recommended by more readers than any other comment this day.

For the record, the commenter is a Bernie Sanders fan—a real fan, not a fan of the Marcus type. Given Sanders’ excellent politics, we think his admiration for Sanders makes complete total sense:
COMMENTER FROM CHAPEL HILL (5/24/15): As is often said, the lesser of two evils is still evil.

In a functioning democracy, none of the Republican candidates would be considered viable Presidential candidates. Most would not hold elected office. Nor would Ms. Clinton be the presumptive Democratic nominee. They all are too flawed—each deeply in the pockets of Wall Street, corporations, banks and the power elite that buy them off—I mean, finance their campaigns. None of them really care about the average American after election day.

While many people support Sen. Sanders' policies, most will state he can never win. We supposedly live in a democracy, yet most believe there is no chance to make significant changes. The status quo is baked into the democratic equation and our psyche. Republicans are worse than Democrats, but make no mistake about it, Democrats support the status quo.

So, we are left with “relativity” to support our decision of whom to support. Each party declares the other candidate is worse and most people vote against rather than for. Nothing really changes for the better because candidates who really believe in significant change aren't supported by the billionaires.

I am supporting Sen. Sanders because he is the only candidate who proposes policies that benefit my children. He is the only candidate who believes in a real society. He is the only candidate not beholden to the power elite.

Sen. Sanders is not a lesser of two evils and that is why you should support him.
“The lesser of two evils is still evil.”

To date, 495 readers have recommended this North Carolinian’s comment, which captures the sense of Bruni’s column.

That said, we think that comment is very dangerous. In our view, it’s also a dangerous same old story, a story we’ve all heard before.

Why do we think that comment is dangerous? Not because of Senator Sanders, who has excellent politics.

We think that comment is dangerous because of what happened the last time that same old story gained traction. The last time around, the Brunis and Marcuses had helped convince a lot of liberals and progressives that Candidate Gore was the lesser of two evils, and therefore was still evil.

Three weeks before the nation voted, the Associated Press quoted one progressive saying exactly that. Beth Gardiner did the report, which ran in the New York Times:
GARDINER (10/14/00): Speakers assailed Gov. George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore as ideologically similar candidates in the pocket of corporate America.

They said the two have similar views on trade, foreign policy and the war on drugs.

Mr. Moore, a filmmaker, urged the crowd not to worry that voting for Mr. Nader might help Mr. Bush by taking votes from Mr. Gore.

"The lesser of two evils, you still end up with evil," Mr. Moore said.
"You don't make a decision because of fear: you make it on your hopes, your dreams, your aspirations."

He added: "Follow your conscience. Do the right thing.”
Three years later, that same filmmaker was bitterly complaining about the war which had been started by the greater of his two alleged “evils.” The lesser evil had given a speech warning against that course.

Was Candidate Gore really “evil?” Did that statement really make sense? What sort of thinking leads progressives to make such statements?

We think those are important questions as our new endless campaign starts getting pseudo-reported. We like Bernie Sanders too. Does that mean other people are “evil?” Should we start convincing ourselves of that same old story again?

A certain journalistic cult will be encouraging liberals to think that way in the next seventeen months. Four cycles back, with these same dynamics at play concerning the evils of You Know Who and his spouse, they succeeded in getting people to think that way about Candidate Gore, who was You Know Who’s chosen successor.

Dear lord, it felt so good at the time! How does that ardor look now?

“The lesser of two evils is still evil.” In our view, it’s very important for liberals to examine that talking point, which comes to us live and direct from the Bruni Marcus Barrel of Big Slick Upper-End Narrative.

All next week, we’ll examine the logic of that familiar old statement. Of all the various same old stories which were floating around last weekend, “the lesser of two evils is evil” strikes us as the most important.

This afternoon: A few more blasts from that highly destructive past


  1. Even though ‘Creatures of the Night’ marked not just a strong return to form, but new levels of songwriting, arrangement and performance skill, the record failed once again to reconnect the band with their understandably distrusting audience. In later years ‘Creatures’ would get the recognition it deserved, but in order to get themselves back in the national spotlight Kiss would have to make a drastic and previously unthinkable change.

    1. When I read something like this, I imagine someone drooling over his keyboard using a hunt-and-peck typing style while occasionally chuckling at his own presumed cleverosity.

    2. I cut and pasted it on a bus in Paris. Bus 83.

  2. I don't believe that Clinton doesn't care about voters after the election is over. That is belied by her lifetime of work in organizations and charities benefitting children, women and families. Both Clintons could have retired to pain self-portraits in their bath but instead they founded a charity foundation and have worked energetically to treat a variety of ills around the world. Neither has become a lobbyist, joined Wall Street, purchased a sports franchise, or become a TV pundit. Instead they have followed Jimmy Carter's model of continued service to the nation. I find that admirable.

  3. "Presumably, big campaign contributors may seek favors from the pols to whom they contribute. But Marcus doesn’t seem to write about that! Her suspicions only seem to be aroused by speaking fees."

    Donations to candidates can also be for the purpose of electing someone who already espouses a particular policy of interest to the donor. It isn't necessarily a quid pro quo of the flavor that expects a change in a candidate's actions as a result of the donation, only a prediction that the candidate is more likely than his opponent to act in a certain way because of previous knowledge about that candidate. The donation is less personal because the donor is not necessarily asking for any action in return including a speech, only expecting one. There is reason to suspect quid pro quo in all types of donations, but some appear cozier than others.

    1. This is why so many corporations, lobbying associations, organizations and individuals donate to both candidates in an election. They hope it will pay off in unspecified ways down the road. Note that if the candidates differ substantially, the donation has little to do with compatible viewpoints on issues.

      Somerby's point is that it is coy to pretend to worry about the corrupting influence of money when it is pervasive, while singling out only one candidate and one limited type of influence for criticism. Like selective enforcement of the law, it is clearly aimed at the person, not the problem.

  4. Donating money to a campaign, is they same as giving money/prizes directly to the politician? Hmm, no not really.

    1. Giving a speaking fee to a charitable foundation favored by the politician is not the same as giving the fee directly to the politician. When a candidate is running for office, any fee would go to the campaign, not the candidate directly. That is why the distinction between declared and undeclared candidates matters.

      Jeb Bush, for example, is pretending he is not a candidate while actively campaigning because he does not want to be subject to the rules and reporting requirements for donations and coordination with PACs. How honest is that?

    2. Which charitable foundation and when did it happen? As usual, i'm not exactly sure what Bob is talking about. Does he mean the Clinton Foundation?

    3. Reading the Marcus piece it sounds like $6 million went into Hillary's pocket (not her campaign) as it did with Bush and Reagen etc. Additional fees (donations?) went to the Clinton Foundation.

    4. They are conflating different speeches made under different circumstances at different points in time. For example, university speaking events, even when Clinton was not running for anything and thus could have pocketed the fees, were donated to the foundation. People like Marcus want readers to think that all fees went into Hillary's pocket. Can someone be a greedy pig when they are raising money for a charity? She ended her last presidential campaign millions in debt. Is it greedy for her to want to raise enough money to fully cover the current campaign? Compare with Carly Fiorina, who didn't bother to pay her campaign staff for the last campaign (despite her being a millionaire) until she decided to run for office this year. Clinton had a great deal more debt, but everyone got paid. It was part of the terms of accepting the position of Secretary of State that she would not take the job unless her lingering campaign debts had a way to be paid, as she describes in her book Hard Choices.

      As I've said before, Republicans would love it if she had so much debt she couldn't run again. They would love it if charitable acts could be portrayed as venal. They don't care if they prove their case or merely tarnish her reputation. It's win-win for them. It's called slinging mud.

    5. Can you explain how Bill and Hillary made $30 million since Jan. 2014 if all their fees went to charity?

    6. No one has said all fees went to charity except you.

    7. That always seems to be the rationale whenever the huge speaking fees and book deals come up -- "They were raising money for charity."

  5. "Was Candidate Gore really “evil?” Did that statement really make sense? What sort of thinking leads progressives to make such statements? "

    The same thinking that leads the same idiots to declare from behind the gates of one of their multi-million dollar mansions, located in lily white suburbs or on lily white coasts, that the police should be disarmed.

  6. "The difference between the suspicions created or perceptions of inappropriate influence when a company pays for a speech and when a billionaire funds a campaign escapes me."

    Just a guess here, but [Name Withheld] obviously is not familiar with "Clinton Rules for Pundits and Press".

  7. Ok,, time to admit the truth. If HRC wasn't the ex wife of a president, she would not be in this position. She happens to be very lucky to be who he is.

    1. Welcome to your new neo-con fan base, Bob. I know how hard you worked to attract them. Both of them.

    2. Here trollee trollee trollee...

    3. If Hillary was, as 12:52 claims, the "ex-wife" of a {President, real feminists might like her better than Elizabeth Warren.

      Instead she really did play Tammy Wynette in "Stand By Your Man" instead of "D-I-V-O-R-C-E."

    4. Forgiveness is not a feminist value? Who says?

    5. Tribalism is a human trait. Are you saying feminists are a life form devoid of human attributes?

    6. Most likely neither Bill nor Hillary Clinton would not be in the position either of them is in, without the other. They are a team - they have each other's backs in every way. She was politically ambitious on his behalf, he is politically ambitious on her behalf. To give credit for her career to him is to misunderstand the situation and the relationship, which is totally symbiotic in both directions.

    7. 12:52 PM sounds like a Jeb Bush or a Rand Paul Republican.

  8. I don't think the liberals will wake up and emerge from the woods in time for Nov 2016. They're sound asleep. is this a good thing? For us, we don't know. But we do know that the last time the liberals emerged from the woods, they only dropped R-bombs. That said, maybe we shouldn't disturb their sleep.

    1. Troll gibberish

    2. Bob "Regular Lunch" commentary, hold the testimony.

    3. Gib trollerish

  9. Is is really the Clinton Foundation or the Clinton Campaign Staff Temporary Paycheck Agency?

    1. Depends how many kids get to see. Estimates are 80% of donations directly help people, which is a good rate. Does it matter if former white house staff work there as long as the work gets done?

    2. Yeah. And a 90% tax rate leaves plenty over for the rich to enjoy an opulent lifestyle.

  10. I wonder what kind of comment Name Witheld might post to the Daily Howler. It might (anything is possible) go like this:

    "Somerby finds his panties in a twist when the New York Times or Washington Post publishes anything remotely critical of the Clintons or Gore. He accuses MSNBC hosts of mental illness bordering on murder. Yet how is this different when the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, of FOX News says much worse? How strange! He says nothing about them any more.

    Bob lectures (at best) and belittles (more often) liberals. He doesn't have a thing to say about equal and/or worse behavior of conservatives, except, it seems as an inspiration to further denigrate liberals for attacking conservative views."

    Such a comment would provoke two types of responses:

    Bobpologist: There are plenty of other people who attack conservatives. Bob is interested in liberals doing better. Besides it is his blog and he can cover what he wants.

    Bobfan: Troll! Go away!

    1. When the NY Times does it, it resonates and is repeated countless times throughout the political punditocracy and press. The impact is magnified many fold.

      When Fox does it, they get lampooned on John Stewart.

      You see the difference?

      "...anything remotely critical of the Clintons...."

      Washington Post and NYTimes being remotely critical:


      Time out: Time for our presidential poll:

      1) Do you find Hillary Clinton trustworthy?

      End of poll.

      "Ya'll did hear us tell you what a FILTHY GREEDY LYING BASTARD Hillary is?"

      "By the way, we'd like to introduce you to our new friend, a truly charming scumbag ratfucker with a long history of lying to further his right wing political agenda and absolutely no journalistic credentials to speak of. He just wants to let you'll know that he suspects Hillary committed treason and sold her office but he doesn't actually have any proof of anything, however, we decided to give his thoughts a thorough airing on our front page."

    2. Your Howler ReadersMay 29, 2015 at 5:11 PM

      The O/P is a hopeless douchebag. Unthinkable to him is a response to "such a comment" that is different from his two options.

      "Such a comment would provoke two types of responses:

      "Bobpologist: There are plenty of other people who attack conservatives. Bob is interested in liberals doing better. Besides it is his blog and he can cover what he wants."

      "Bobfan: Troll! Go away!"

      Although more considered responses to "such comments" happen all the time, the troll douchebags here pretend they can't hear them. As a result it's no wonder that it grows tiresome to reply reasonably to the stubborn idiocy represented by "such comments."

      In any event, once more into the breach:

      ReasonedReplyToATroll: You are positing that Somerby has a problem with "any" criticism of Clinton. To do so, you insist on ignoring the effort Somerby's taken to say exactly why This Particular Criticism is problematic. If you'd like to get more thoughtful replies, perhaps you should make some effort to show that you have thought about what's being said, rather than contributing your usual pretense and/or stupidity.

  11. If we had instant runoff voting, where we can rank each candidate, there wouldn't be as much of an issue. You'd simply vote your conscience, and in the event your fellow voters lean towards other candidates, your vote would be transferred to the lesser evil you desire.

    However, I'm not convinced Sanders is as much of a spoiler as Nader. He's running within, not without, the Democratic ticket. A vote for him in a primary does*not* give sway to any Republican. I believe it safely sends a message to Clinton about the party rabble being fed up with the neoconservative takeover of the party.

    1. Spoilers, spoilers, spoilers!

      There were a few things with more significant influence on the 2000 election than Ralph Nader voters:

      -The Supreme Court
      -A mainstream press dedicated to bringing Gore low
      -Democratic voters who didn't bother to vote (aka Turnout)

      A couple of those things are poised to have similar roles in 2016. Might be wise to focus on them, rather than Sanders.

    2. Let's take the example TDH gave about how the media do not discuss medical privatization. This is not exactly true. David Brooks has stated in the New York Times that socialized medicine is a non-starter. In separate articles, the Times has lent credibility to Brooks by leading a crusade against the high cost of treatments. The way the industry does this is by hiring people who manage which doctors and which treatments you can receive. These experts are higher paid, and as a result medical industry is now bleeding nurses. They are running to these wise insurance companies who deny us care.

      This is much further to the right than Clinton's rhetoric on the issue. It seems to me that the problem is no longer seen as money corrupting healthcare, but a lack of sophistication. If the health care clinic cannot manage this new technology, they lose funding, and get blacklisted by the financial industry.

      While telling us she is fighting for us, going further back, Clinton takes a very interesting approach to doing so. According to her book Living History, much of the blame is on her own inability to convince us of a policy (universal healthcare) the majority of us wanted at the time. On page 248 she wrote "Ultimately, we could never convince the vast majority of Americans who have health insurance that they wouldn't have to give up benefits and medical choices to help the minority of Americans without coverage. Nor could we persuade them that reform would protect them from losing insurance..."

      While taking hundreds of thousands of dollars from the industry, Clinton has warmed up to the idea of new industry-backed reforms. How those can ultimately fit into the goal of replacing this with health-care-for-all is anyone's guess. Maybe we're too stupid to understand it.

      TDH also writes Gore would have not gone into Iraq. While Clinton is indeed softer than Republicans on Iran, our current bugaboo, she still voted for the Iraq war and said "clearly, Saddam Hussein had been a real problem for the international community for more than a decade." She continues to threaten Iran with sanctions for their "aggressive behavior," suggesting that she is not about to sit out attempts to control the oil-rich region.

    3. This is a substantive attack on Clinton, supposedly from the left, but what does it have to do with the focus of this blog and with criticisms of press bias against Clinton?

      Hillary will have plenty of time to explain her positions on Iran and health care. We won't have to depend on guesses from the right (or the right pretending to be left) but can evaluate her ideas from the source.

    4. When Sanders is attacked in the same way Clinton is, I will know he is a viable candidate. The right is terrified of Hillary. That makes her A-OK with me -- because their interests are not mine, not because I am a tribal voter. How can she be characterized as neoliberal when other neolibs hate her?

    5. @ 8:56 PM

      I can easily dismiss your comment, as it is illogical. I quoted her autobiography. It's hard to get more to the source than that, no?

      @ 11:00 PM

      Clinton is going to be criticized one way or the other. We might as well do it done on our own terms. If you'll notice, TDH does this in little asides, although is main focus is tribal narratives. If Sanders is being ignored by the neoliberals, then what do you call someone who takes their lead and ignores them too? Hardly sounds democratic to me.

      I honestly don't know what significance the neoliberal hatred of Clinton has. But a funny story is that in Greece there is a Marxist-Lenninist Party and a Lenninist Marxist Party. They absolutely distrust each other.

    6. Conservative ratfucking. Now we see what it looks like.

    7. Bernie Sanders is in no way another Nader. That is just ridiculous. Nader ran as an independent, on his own little ego trip and didn't give a shit what he did to Gore's chances. Sanders is running for the D party nomination and has already said he will support whoever is the D nominee. Sanders is no dummy. He isn't attacking Hillary personally as Obama did with his thinly veiled references to the right wing attacks. He is in the race to advance important progressive ideas as is Hillary. Sanders is not going to do anything to help one of the clowns from the insane party to take the White House.



    When asked if the donations to the Clinton Foundation by defense contractors including Boeing (which subsequently received State Department approval of sales of their products to foreign governments) constituted a violation of domestic bribery statues, Law School Professor and Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) expert Michael Koehler tells Breitbart News, “I’ll answer that question by quoting a former law professor who was fond of saying ‘if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck chances are it is a duck'”

    Former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Andy McCarthy thinks there’s enough evidence for the FBI and DOJ to launch an investigation into whether Hillary Clinton broke federal statutes that prohibit the bribery of public officials.

    “There is certainly a reasonable basis for federal agents and prosecutors to investigate whether there was an understanding that Secretary Clinton would be influenced in the performance of her official duties by lavish donations to her family foundation,

    Without an investigation, one cannot say for certain that these donations constituted bribery. However, we'll never get a legal resolution of the question, because the Justice Dept. will not do a real investigation. Sadly, we've become so inured to the politicization of everything that this sort of corruption doesn't even bother people.

    1. What kind of investigation will be conducted into whether harassment of Secretary Clinton by conservatives is a waste of taxpayer money and a motivated partisan attempt to interfere with her legitimate attempts to do her job?

    2. That's some real source work, Dinky.

      Go back to counting beans.

    3. sorry. Link is

      Thanks, 8:27. for pointing out the error. And, thanks also for illustrating my point. Tribe is everything. Hastert is arrested for drawing his own money out of the bank. Great! thrwon the book at him!

      Hillary may have taken bribes as Secretary of State. Nothing to see here. Just move along.

    4. There is no evidence of either Clinton taking bribes.

    5. This comment has been removed by the author.

    6. Hasert shepherded through the House of Representatives an expansion of mandatory reporting laws for what any depositor might be doing with $10,000 or more of their own money. (In fact, he was on board with expanding the surveillance of citizens in all sorts of ways under the theory the innocent never have anything to fear from their government.)

      Any citizen has the right to refuse to answer the questions of federal law enforcement agents but if the citizen does answer their questions the citizen must answer truthfully or he/she is committing a crime. (Also, [LINK])

      If you are paying for services that money becomes taxable as income to your service provider. If you are giving substantial sums of your money away to an individual you, as the donor, are required to pay the associated gift tax unless "[u]nder special arrangements the donee [agrees] to pay the tax instead."

      (David, with your being a retired CPA and all, I'm surprised you were unaware of any of this black letter law.)

    7. Yes, from what's reported, Hastert apparently broke the law by the way he withdrew his own money from the bank and by giving false answers to prosecutors.

    8. It wasn't "the way he withdrew his own money" and you know it.

      There was no law against withdrawing money. You insist on that bullcrap wording. Hastert broke laws but they weren't laws against "withdrawing your own money." You know that, bullshit artist.

    9. Anon 10:08 Huffington Post, among others, says, "The indictment accuses Hastert of structuring bank withdrawals to avoid bank reporting requirements, and lying to the FBI about the nature of the withdrawals."

    10. Hastert withdrew well over $1,000,000 in cash, each withdrawals just under $10,000 to avoid requirement of reporting to IRS. Purpose of cash withdrawals was to pay blackmail to someone who threatened to go public that Hastert had committed child abuse years earlier when hastert was a public school teacher. In the bizarro world of what the right wing has become, as translated by D in C', Hastert is being mistreated in comparison with Hilary

    11. Isn't the old saw that it's every high school kid's dream to have an affair with Teach? If this kid enjoyed himself with Hastert, it's homophobic not to apply that old saw.

    12. Dinky cites a Breitbart post as his primary support and gets a pass? How pathetic. I guess if you're a polite as*hole, you're credible for that reason alone.

    13. 2:00 PM,

      Bait's all yours.