Supplemental: Are we able to like or respect more than one thing at a time?

WEDNESDAY, MAY 27, 2015

Bernie Sanders’ politics:
Many liberals very much like Bernie Sanders’ politics.

We like Sanders’ politics too. On the other hand, we were surprised to see him semi-endorse the notion of a 90 percent marginal tax rate.

Has he advanced such a position before? To us, that seems more like a position you advance as a professor, as a journalist or as a member of Congress, rather than as a White House candidate.

Just a guess. It could have the effect of “McGovernizing” a very good man—and we loved Candidate McGovern, who went on to lose 49 states.

That said, we’ll wait to see the way the campaign plays out.

We like everything we know about Bernie Sanders. We also understand one of the ways his politics has managed to stay so good—he has conducted his entire electoral career in the state of Vermont.

Also, he isn’t exactly expected to win. That’s what allowed Candidate Kucinich to advocate single-payer in 2008 when none of the other candidates would.

(We like Kucinich too. We once saw him go out of his way to do a good thing when he didn’t know that anyone was watching.)

It isn’t hard to see why liberals like Sanders’ politics. In the next few days, we’ll be asking a basic question in several different ways:

Can we like or respect more than one thing at a time?

We like the way Sanders conducts himself. We also know that the Clintons have conducted their politics in the national context, in situations where they were trying to win.

We recall how it felt after 1988, when it seemed that no Democrat would ever win the White House again. We liked and admired Candidate Dukakis—still do!—but he got left for dead in a way which was very disheartening.

We were grateful to Candidate Bill Clinton in 1992 for finding a way to win. We also agree with what he said to Cynthia McFadden in an NBC interview earlier this month:
MCFADDEN (5/4/15): Former President Bill Clinton says he has no regrets about taking millions from foreign governments for his foundation.

CLINTON: I don’t think that there’s anything sinister in trying to get wealthy people, and countries that are seriously involved in development, to spend their money wisely in a way that helps poor people and lifts them up. I don’t think there’s anything bad with that. I think it’s good.

MCFADDEN: But even while the criticism at home rumbles, the heart-warming stories here in Africa are undeniable. At the Starkey Hearing Foundation program, a hundred and fifty people will be fitted for hearing aids. Their goal, a million people by 2020.

CLINTON: I’ve done these in Uganda and Zambia.

MCFADDEN: This boy will hear for the first time.
We’re glad that boy will hear for the first time! We don’t think “there’s anything bad with that” either. We’re willing to guess that Bernie Sanders thinks that’s a good thing too. Based on everything we know, we’re able to imagine that Bill Clinton has done this work around the world on the basis of good motives.

We’re going to repeat a few basic points. We like everything we know about Bernie Sanders. Also, we think it’s good that a little boy in Africa had his hearing restored.

We’re often amazed by the sour odor given off by the upper-end journalists who have been chasing the Clintons around for all these years. This is the way Ruth Marcus ended Sunday’s column in the Washington Post:
MARCUS (5/24/15): Now comes the news about the previously undisclosed speaking fees that went to the foundation, not the Clintons themselves. The foundation says it is disclosing these out of an abundance of transparency.

True, no law or ethics rule requires such reporting. As to Clinton’s agreement to disclose foundation donors, the position of the foundation and the Clinton campaign is that the document doesn’t include these because they’re “revenue” for services rendered, not charitable gifts.

This interpretation makes no sense. By this logic, Vladimir Putin himself could have given the foundation $2 billion to hear Bill Clinton speak while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state, and it wouldn’t have to be revealed.

Was this a bookkeeping glitch? (Another one, after the failure to specify foreign-government givers on IRS forms, or the previously revealed instances in which donors weren’t reported.) Or was it a calculated end-run around the disclosure agreement? I suspect the former but understand those who tend to the more nefarious interpretation.

One explanation involves bungling; the other, shadiness. Neither is an especially attractive proposition for a presidential candidate.
Marcus has it in her heart to imagine a bookkeeping glitch. For unexplained reasons, she can also understand those who picture shadiness and nefarious motives here, even though the foundation disclosed these donations itself.

What doesn’t enter the picture here is the little boy who got the chance to hear. Beyond that, Marcus doesn’t say that she can believe that this work around the world is being done from a desire to serve.

That said, we’re often struck by the crabbed, fallen nature of our large gang of Javerts.

Earlier in her column, Marcus complained about the way Hillary Clinton’s speaking fees “invite suspicions that [companies] are seeking to curry favor with you, in your future role.” She didn’t mention the way the New York Times had to conduct a 4400-word journalistic scam to create even one “suspicious” example—the frightening scary uranium deal, which Hillary Clinton seems to have played no part in.

Marcus says that she’s concerned about possible future misconduct. She doesn’t seem to be concerned by the journalistic clown show which has already occurred.

We like everything we know about Bernie Sanders. We also like the fact that deserving children are being helped around the world. We can’t say we’re real impressed with the crabbed, dishonest form our “journalism” has routinely taken in the decades of the endless Clinton/Gore pseudo-scandals.

For ourselves, we’re willing to like and admire more than one thing at a time. We don’t plan to hate the one if we prefer the other. We’re especially reluctant to let the crabbed memes of scribes like Marcus worm their way into our heads just because we’ve heard them repeated for so many years.

We’ll discuss versions of this idea over the next several days. We think it’s a central idea for those who will experience the machinations of our new endless campaign.

43 comments:

  1. Rachel Maddow is apparently saying that Sanders is a viable candidate and that he can win the nomination. That suggests her political judgment is seriously warped. I think she is currying favor with liberals, most of whom like Sanders just as much as Somerby does (and I do) but don't think he has a chance in hell of winning anything.

    We don't need to be told what we want to hear by Maddow. She should tell us what is true in the world, not stoke unrealistic fantasies. I am supporting Hillary Clinton because I admire her and because she does have a chance of winning. Her policies aren't as liberal as Sanders but they are a lot more realistic, more achievable, as are her election chances.

    Liberals can snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by fixating on Sanders and pipe dreams instead of doing the work of electing our most viable candidate.

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    1. Nice little narrative you're swallowing whole from the spoon Somerby is feeding you with.

      Bernie Sanders is a loveable old coot from a little insignificant state who doesn't stand a snowball's chance in hell.

      You can rest assured that "the most viable candidate" -- Hillary -- isn't nearly so dumb, and won't take Sanders or the income inequality issue he raises so lightly.

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    2. oh dear god. How about Martin O'Malley? Is he viable enough? The campaigning hasn't even started and we have to toss out every candidate besides HRC or we're DOOOOOMED!!

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    3. Hillary is already running behind Bush and she is primed for defeat by the media. Bob already told us that.

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    4. Real clear politics has Clinton ahead of Bush by 22 points as of May 19.

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    5. Too bad it's May 28.

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    6. They said that is the latest poll. If you know of a more recent one, please post the link.

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    7. http://www.foxnews.com/politics/interactive/2015/05/13/fox-news-polls-huckabee-seen-as-more-ethical-than-most-clintons-favorable-slips/

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    8. According to the poll you cited, Clinton is ahead of Bush in favorability by a substantial margin. She is not "running behind Bush".

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    9. Are you the commenter who didn't think Clinton lost in 2008?

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    10. Look at the numbers yourself.

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  2. The guy just announced.

    One day of *Bernie!* is not a fixation that will doom the Democrats.

    I am willing to entertain more than one idea at time myself.

    An additional idea: A candidate "to the left" of the candidate sure to win the nomination may actually be beneficial for both the media and the "lock" candidate.

    The "no-chance-in-hell" candidate may, potentially, be able to widen the sphere of debate. (It almost seems impossible it could be narrower!) Perhaps there could even be room for the press to entertain discussion of issues, rather than personalities, as a result. It could happen.

    The no-chance-in-hell candidate might be able to press the lock candidate into verbal commitments more liberal than she might otherwise make. It could happen. And it might not doom the lock candidate's election if it did. It might energize as many or more voters than it dispelled, especially given the already existing polarization of party loyalty.

    It really is too early and too pessimistic to call Bernie Sander's candidacy a spoiler.

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  3. Hey if a black guy with the middle name Hussein can win, why not Sanders. Before we crown H. Clinton, perhaps we should give this guy a listen.

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    1. You can't just listen. You also need to think. Will anyone besides progressives vote for a candidate proposing a 90% bracket? Can Sanders win with just the people who would support that?

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    2. Will you be in the 90% bracket?

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    3. 9:43,
      Forget that. A liberal can'r even win. The system isn't set-up to allow it.

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    4. Sanders couldn't win a primary for Congress outside of Vermont.

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    5. Sanders has one thing going for him: Clinton has proven she can lose a seemingly insurmountable lead before.

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    6. Many of us don't believe she lost. She did win the popular vote (as opposed to caucuses) and the delegates were never counted at the convention.

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    7. Interesting subthread here of the last of the hardy band of Howler readers.

      @ 9:43 says Sanders proposes a 90% tax bracket, showing the logic of how Republican jokes about Al Gore's statement on the internet could turn into a belief by some that Al said the "invented the internet."

      @ 10:46 expresses the belief Clinton not only didn't lose her lead in 2008, she never really lost at all. I of course agree, but she did not have to take on incumbent VP Lieberman, who didn't lose in 2000.

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  4. Simon Maloy is another one of those kids at Salon. Spent his early years
    covering radio bloviators.

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  5. I'm not afraid anymore.

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    1. Just a guess. Bob's prediction the Sanders might end up like McGovern has a tranquilizing effect?

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  6. When you think about a 90% tax bracket, you need to remember that there are other income taxes people pay in varying amounts: self-employment tax, state income tax, state income tax surcharge on high earners, city wage tax, extra capital gains and dividend tax on the wealthy. This combination of taxes, added to even the current federal income tax rate, probably already discourages some people from working. A substantial increase in federal income taxes will drive more people out of the work force.

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    1. Actually, there's no evidence that different tax rates affect the number of hours those hauling in the largest amounts of compensation spend working- Saint Milton Friedman, himself, conceded that point many times, albeit with the warning the higher the tax rate the more of their finite number of work hours and personal well of inventiveness some of those among the most highly compensated would devote to finding ways to dodge their tax liability. But I would guess most of those persons aren't doing anything useful for the national economy, anyway.

      As to whether higher tax rates would "drive more people" who are not top earners "out of the work force," that's a consideration that's nothing but an irrelevant distraction in a debate about whether there should be a 90% tax bracket.

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    2. The New Testament defines usury as theft and the Catholic church considered it a mortal sin. It is not defined by them as too high interest rates, but as charging any interest at all on loans or money transactions. That means the whole banking and finance industry, and those who live off stocks and bonds are committing theft (because money is earned for nothing) and are engaged in mortal sins. What has been lost in modern times is any sense of shame over acquiring money this way.

      And you, David, have the nerve to suggest that people who do not work (for one reason or another) are the ones who should blush!

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  7. Friend of TINA, Bob Somerby writes,

    To us, that seems more like a position you advance as a professor, as a journalist or as a member of Congress, rather than as a White House candidate.

    I see our host is [finally?] on the same page as the near universally unlamented Maggie "There Is No Altenative [to neo-liberalism]" Thatcher. Guess he figures since she came to power in such a temporally efficient process, an election held 36 days after that 1979 vote of no confidence, the circumstances allowed for a Big Idea or two to be mentioned to the voters.

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    1. If they both hated pigeons would you classify them together in all other respects too?

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    2. No. Thatcher was definitely female and Somerby is not.

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  9. "On the other hand, we were surprised to see him semi-endorse the notion of a 90 percent marginal tax rate."

    So answering "No" to a question about whether a 90% rate is too high
    is "semi-endorsing" that rate? I am surprised to see Mr. Somerby take the initiative in creating an enorsement out of a response to a question.

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    1. Endorsing is not the same as proposing. He did answer No (it is not too high) to that question. Endorsement means "giving public approval to something." In what way did he not do that?

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    2. Invent means "to create or produce (something useful) for the first time." I am glad you join Mr. Somerby in seeming to semi-endorse the concept that it is reasonable to infer things.

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  10. "Has he advanced such a position before? To us, that seems more like a position you advance as a professor, as a journalist or as a member of Congress, rather than as a White House candidate."

    That sounds like an insult. You do tend to find those stupid enough to advocate such an idea concentrated in those professions.

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    1. Conservatives propose such idiotic policies all the time during their campaigns. They don't believe they will ever get them enacted but they are a means of rallying the base and attracting voters, a form of public branding.

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    2. Because conservatives have nothing but contempt for their voters.

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    3. Actually I follow the Somerby theory that it is the contempt liberals and pseudo-liberals show for everyday Americans, particularly those with anti-homosexual views based on deeply help religious beliefs, along with Southerners in general that is a bigger problem. At least when it comes to advancing progressive interests.

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    4. Jackass, try to follow the thread. Eh?

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    5. Instead of just following a jackass?

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  11. If the issue is Bill Clinton's motives, he stated them explicitly in an interview. He believes, citing Ken Wilber, that he and other powerful people secretly work in the interest of the masses, you know, like Batman. For some strange reason, the masses have a hard time understanding this concept.

    In regards to helping the poor, benighted natives. This begs the question of why aren't these "poor" societies creating their own hearing aid companies? However liberal and generous these high-tech corporations are to third world countries (often indebted to the IMF), they are hardly anonymous, as they're sure to have their brand known, see Third World Quarterly Vol 35 Issue 1 2014 "Buying into development? Brand Aid forms of cause-related marketing." Why must they wait for large American businesses to look out for them, their agriculture, their military etc.? In US ideology, even on the liberal end, there is undoubtedly a neocolonialist spirit in the writing for example, Haiti has no experience democracy. This was said not in the National Review or Drudge report, but explicitly in a NYT book review of Laurent Dubois's history of Haiti.

    Being White Saviors, does it even matter if we follow-up on the story of saving Africans, or give any socioeconomic context? The idea is that everyone wants to be like us, and our interventions are simply revolutionary, above reproach.

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    1. This is an interesting discussion. The implication is that the help offered by powerful people is actually harmful and misguided. While this may be true in some (most?) cases, it also equally true that without this help there would continue to be suffering. Many conservatives believe that any unearned support creates "dependence" and that suffering is the appropriate mechanism to motivate individuals to create their own solutions. I don't think the answer is to suppress the desire the the powerful to "help", but to work hard to improve how their help is provided to avoid, as best as we can, the negative effects of their support. There are many examples of programs that do much more good than harm. Emulate them.

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    2. I am not questioning whether or not we should provide hearing aids. Rather, I'm questioning if the stories we tell about ourselves doing so serve harmful ends. The media and foundations are run by wealthy people who want to help these uncivilized Haitians and ragtag Filipinos, and are so inspired by this generosity on their own parts, that they will go even further and open markets for importing US goods, and exporting capital. I believe these are institutional reasons for our blindness, not the conservative movement.

      Even radical isolationists only believe in self-sufficiency of foreigners. The White Savior cannot have selfish motives. This also is the principle of blocking aid in Afghanistan, "benign neglect."
      You write, in relation to third world debt, impoverishment and underdevelopment, we must help "as best we can" even if sometimes we're "misguided." This is a good example of the exact problem I'm raising. Maybe we're not such hot shit. Look at Cuba, Vietnam, Palestine. Surely the documented efforts to block development there are cause for some heavier criticism than being "misguided."

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