The center-right bias of Paul Krugman and company is to steer voters toward a revised sense of self-worth and lowered expectations, while for downsized angry voters, bias is neither center-left or right, but toward change.
In “The Facts Have A Well-Known Center-Left Bias,” Paul Krugman writes:
“But I’m also hearing from Berniebros, insisting that anything I say must be wrong, because I criticized their hero. And this suggests to me that we may need a clarification of the doctrine that facts have a well-known liberal bias. More specifically, they seem to have a center-left bias: conservatives are big on empirical denial, but so is some of the U.S. left.”
First of all, Paul Krugman has been calling U.S. progressives, whatever portion of the U.S. Democratic party they comprise, a slur for months now. At first, it was the few radicals among Bernie Sanders followers he pegged with the moniker. Now, it’s anyone who voted for Sanders and still supports him as well as Sanders himself. We’re no longer talking about a few bad apples, as if the swarms of Hillary Bots out there don’t exist (you should see the mail, comments, and tweets I get,) but millions of Democrats who just won’t get with the program and become goo-goo eyed at the mere mention of Hillary Clinton.
But what grates is the fiction promoted by Krugman under the guise that facts have a well-known liberal bias, but with the twist that what is now a “center-left bias,” AKA Sanders-progressivism, is the lefty equivalent of what the right has been doing in creating a factual alternate reality. Krugman is engaging in precisely the same tactics and behaviors he spent these last seven years criticizing conservatives for employing. He is using the narratives he told us about the Koch-owned Heritage Institute, Paul Ryan, Eric Erickson, Larry Kudlow at CNBC and many conservatives in between, to paint the progressive left with and alienate those recalcitrant voters. This became Krugman’s tack once Senator Sanders’ success at the polls could no longer be ignored, circa January 2016.
It was at that point that Paul Krugman basically did an about-face on most of his long-held positions in order to justify Hillary Clinton’s tack of diminished expectations and incrementalist approach. When he couldn’t do an about-face on policies he promoted assiduously, those policies were twisted into pipe dreams; too much to hope for because, well, Republicans. Why? Because the idea that an engaged voting public intent on effecting a regime change is the hallmark of Bernie Sanders’ campaign, not Hillary Clinton’s. Everything Sanders is in favor of is either bad or out of reach, no matter how central it has always been to liberal and progressive core values, is now antithesis to liberalism in this new era of self-defeatism.
On trade, Krugman accuses both Trump and Sanders of being ignoramus isolationists, when, at least in Sanders’ case, it couldn’t be further from the truth. One might even make the case that, Trump, who pretends to be on the side of workers and likely would promulgate differently-structured deals that are just as advantageous to the .01%, is also not an isolationist.
Krugman has also obviously relished lumping in Sanders with Donald Trump and accused him, at every opportunity, of using racial division in order to win over his electorate. This is especially spurious, given Sanders’ civil rights record and given that he was rebuffed last summer, in spite of coming up with the most progressive platform for the restoration of civil rights and racial justice.
On jobs and the minimum wage, a topic largely abandoned by Krugman in the last two years, voters on both sides of the political divide want sweeping change. This desire applies equally to Sanders and Trump voters. Clinton voters, mostly the upper middle class and older, retired Americans, aren’t so keen on the Fight For 15. They have theirs, let the others make do on $12, if they can get it! Sanders has been doing well across the generations, taking the lion-share of the millennial vote. Why? Well, the gig economy isn’t sustaining and it comes with issues that reflect the decline of labor unions and all of the gains they brought to the American workforce. The acute severity of the problem is well illustrated in this short Marketplace segment on NPR:
The New York Post reports on AOL’s new policy to pay its freelancers:
“AOL told its vendors and suppliers — including, apparently, editorial freelancers contributing to its Huffington Post — that it is going to stretch out payments to 90 days.
Verizon completed its $4.4 billion acquisition of AOL last June, and according to one source, has been going over costs and looking for areas to cut.”
This is the new economy for millions of people, whether they are older worker who never resumed their professional careers, or their kids, now out of college, degreed, with huge student debt and unable to move out of mom and dad’s house.
These stories are repeated across industries, across the country, across race and the generations, often hitting several generations in the same family. This is the new normal that hasn’t gotten much press, especially over the last two years’ worth of media trumpeting millions of new jobs, without describing them. But these voters, no matter where they dwell, have been living with the consequences of an economy that is only working for speculators and captains of industry, and an ever shrinking middle class.
In an op-ed entitled: “As West Virginia Goes…” Charles M. Blow writes:
“Bankruptcies aside, the Obama years saw a steep decline in coal production in the state. According to a report published by West Virginia University, “After climbing to nearly 158 million short tons in 2008, the state’s coal mine output has tumbled in each successive year to an annual total of approximately 115 million short tons in 2014 ─ or a cumulative decline of 27 percent.”
This was the right long-term clean-energy approach, but it hit a sour chord in West Virginia.
True to her Obama-emulating form, Clinton took a similar tack this cycle when she said during a CNN town hall:
“I’m the only candidate which has a policy about how to bring economic opportunity using clean renewable energy as the key into coal country. Because we’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business, right?
And we’re going to make it clear that we don’t want to forget those people. Those people labored in those mines for generations, losing their health, often losing their lives to turn on our lights and power our factories.
Now we’ve got to move away from coal and all the other fossil fuels, but I don’t want to move away from the people who did the best they could to produce the energy that we relied on.”
Again, smart long-term policy, but doesn’t sit well in West Virginia”
Setting the obvious racism aside, something that Blow fails to openly bring out in this op-ed, as in many other states that went for Sanders, this primary season, the primary concern of voters is one of survival. West Virginia is no different from Michigan, Iowa or North Dakota in this respect. While it is obvious that these white Democrats live in all-white states and traditionally have not been much different from the working and lower middle class counterparts among GOP voters, that propensity for an outlook that is not racially-inclusive does not in any way overshadow the primary economic concern, unless faced with direct competition for jobs and resources.
After that state’s primary in 2016, one cannot interpret West Viginians overwhelming 2008 Clinton vote as anything other than a vote against Barack Obama, anymore than one cannot conclude, this time around that Clinton’s defeat this week is, again, a vote against Barack Obama, not so much for reasons of racial animus, as much as for the economic losses suffered during his term. Had there been no GOP obstruction of Obama, and had he been able to pour funding into the state to invest in new energy production, Clinton probably would have won. But Clinton decided to “hug Obama tight” as a campaign strategy and it is proving to be a problem wherever white, mostly blue collar Democrats live and work, if they have work. So, while West Virginia definitely “turned” on Hillary Clinton, one can certainly say it’s more a case of right back atcha than treachery. While Obama had no choice but to put West Virginia in the loss column, Clinton could have handled things better and, given the nature of this election, should never have placed the state in the loss column.
Senator Sanders has won twenty states in an election that is said to be driven by white anger on both the left and right. Inequality has been widening and it has been doing so across the political divide. From a just-published comprehensive report on the middle class by Pew Research entitled: “The shrinking middle class in U.S. metropolitan areas: 6 key findings:”
“The decline in the share of adults who are middle class nationally also proved to be a pervasive local phenomenon in the period from 2000 to 2014. Affecting communities from Boston to Seattle and from Dallas to Milwaukee, the share of adults living in middle-income households fell in 203 out of 229 U.S. metropolitan areas examined from 2000 to 2014. With fewer Americans in the middle-income tier, the economic tiers above and below have grown in significance over time. The share of adults in the lower-income tier rose in 160 areas, and the share in the upper-income tier increased in 172 areas.”
Pew Research also posted a calculator in which users can assess where they belong along the class ladder. Here is where my family places:
Remember, I live in very populous Southern California. If things are bad enough here, and they are, a new article paints a horrific state of affairs among U.S. meat workers. In an article entitled, “Denied Breaks, U.S. Poultry Workers Wear Diapers on the Job,” based on a new report by Oxfam America, Bloomberg reports:
“Workers in plants run by the largest U.S. poultry producers are regularly being denied bathroom breaks and as a result some are reduced to wearing diapers while working on the processing line, Oxfam America said in a report Wednesday.”
The report goes on to state that:
“workers from Tyson Foods Inc., Pilgrim’s Pride Corp., Perdue Farms Inc. and Sanderson Farms Inc. who said that supervisors mock them, ignore requests and threaten punishment or firing. When they can go, they wait in long lines even though they are given limited time, sometimes 10 minutes, according to the report. Some workers have urinated or defecated themselves while working because they can’t hold on any longer, the report said. Some workers “restrict intake of liquids and fluids to dangerous degrees…”
This is how, by reelecting the same Congress and executive branch officials, we allow for the perpetuation of these kinds of conditions for the people who handle the chicken and stew we put on our dinner tables. While we might be tempted to place all the blame on conservative and libertarian politicians, no “states’ rights” advocating politician should be spared the blame, and that includes Hillary Clinton who, this primary season, is on video repeating over and over how she would leave certain things up to the states to regulate, and who has long-standing ties to Tyson Foods. Working conditions – both wages and labor regulations – are left both up to Congress and the states. With something as horrific as brutal working conditions in US food plants, one needs to bring up the importance of financial ties and how they affect what politicians may or may not intervene in. Many a Clinton supporter, and Clinton herself, have been asking how taking money has affected her judgment? Well, not supporting much tougher federal regulations and a living wage could be one way. Trouble at food production plants, particularly in the Deep South (Arkansas included) is nothing new.
But before we get to a president leaving policy up to lawmakers or demanding it from them, we still have a Democratic primary to finish. As we speak, just slightly less than half of Democrats who voted in 38 primaries chose Senator Bernie Sanders, while just over half voted for Hillary Clinton. As it stands, about 400 superdelegates may well decide one of the most divisive primaries the Democratic party has put on in decades. In “Hillary Clinton wants you to ignore the reality of the polls — and you shouldn’t,” Shaun King writes:
“Now, Hillary’s campaign wants us to ignore poll after poll after poll which shows her either losing to Donald Trump or so close that it’s within the margin of error.
She’s barely beating Trump, 41-40 in the new Reuters poll.”
Indeed, listen to the analysis offered in the clip Shaun King includes with his piece:
Key to pollster Ann Selzer’s analysis is the facts that, whereas Donald J. Trump’s unfavorable ratings were thought to be important, coming into this election, not only have they not made an impact, but it turns out that Hillary Clinton’s are lower. Then, the other important piece of Seltzer’s explanation is the role that independent voters will play in the state races where Trump and Clinton are neck and neck. What doesn’t get a mention in this clip is the fact that Senator Bernie Sanders has consistently beat Trump by double digits in state polling, never losing to him in any poll. That is not the case for Clinton who almost never wins by more than 6 points and does lose to Trump in certain states. There is also ample polling, over this past year, that shows that the independent vote overwhelmingly goes to Sanders when the primaries are open to all voters. This caveat has been a huge bone of contention for Sanders supporters who’ve been locked out of a primary system that, in a polarized society, seems rigged to many, and that is on top of irregularities that have been uncovered in New York, Arizona, and others. Whatever the situation that caused present-day DNC voting rules to be instituted, they are nothing like today’s polarized electorate and, in many ways, are causing more anger because of the appearance that they favor only the Clinton camp.
Then, there is the negative campaigning that Clinton has engaged in, particularly in the last three months. Aside from the fact that it hasn’t been successful, it has left a very bitter taste in the mouths of many voters and is having the effect of solidifying the resolve of voters who were already inclined not to vote for Clinton, were she to win.
Clinton’s attempts at disqualifying Sanders on the issues he has always promoted have been refuted by high-profile surrogates such as Robert Reich, particularly as it pertains to Sanders’ New York Daily News interview. Sanders’ prescriptions are identical to Elizabeth Warren’s, as the vast majority of voters know. Before that, Clinton attempted to impugn Sanders during debates, using dog-whistles. That tack was generally not well-received. There was also the “otherization” of Sanders, portraying him as a non-Democrat who refuses to help Democrats down-ticket. But since that tack, a Politico investigation has uncovered that “Clinton fundraising leaves little for state parties: The Democratic front-runner says she’s raising big checks to help state committees, but they’ve gotten to keep only 1 percent of the $60 million raised.”
Hypocrisy aside, the bulk of the negative campaigning is being waged by the pundit class, with well-known op-ed writers such as Paul Krugman and Jonathan Capehart doing most of the heavy lifting for Clinton, and the rest of the neoliberal media taking their cues from them. If Donald Trump has had incredible luck with free access to the media, to the tune of $2 billion in free advertising, Hillary Clinton’s campaign has been no less fortunate, though using a different tack, with the help of Clinton’s former enemy, David Brock.
As Clinton went negative, her surrogates signaled that unification would immediately follow. So far, there is no sign of the latter, while the former is still remains apparent. If it is any indication, the negativity inspired by Charles M. Blow’s latest piece on West Virginia has laid bare some rather ugly sentiments among commenters in the Times, with one of its top commenters, Socrates (the alias used by Chelsea Handler’s brother, Glenn Handler) who writes:
“There’s not a lot one can do with the finest Appalachian minds.
They seem not only to enjoy black lung disease, but also black brain disease.
Coal on the brain can kill an awful lot of brain cells.
You simply cannot reach some people.”
It is rather odd for Socrates, who has expressed very strong support for Sanders in his commentary, to fall for an op-ed that, clearly, was designed to elicit a negative association between Bernie Sanders and his political opposite, Donald Trump, through both candidates’ voters. As I pointed out in my reply to Socrates: Kicking these voters out of the Democratic tent not only isn’t smart in the short term, but it doesn’t get us any closer to the goal King set. These are the descendants of the people King was aiming to reach [in his poor people campaign.] King knew full well who they were and what their views were like. As a society, we have yet to finish what King started. From King’s Three Evils of Society speech:
“Indeed by our very nature we affirm that something new is taking place on the American political horizon. We have come here from the dusty plantations of the Deep South and the depressing ghettos of the North. We have come from the great universities and the flourishing suburbs. We have come from Appalachian poverty and from conscience stricken wealth. But we have come. And we have come here because we share a common concern for the moral health of our nation. We have come because our eyes have seen through the superficial glory and glitter of our society and observed the coming of judgment. Like the prophet of old, we have read the handwriting on the wall. We have seen our nation weighed in the balance of history and found wanting. We have come because we see this as a dark hour in the affairs of men. For most of us this is a new mood. We are traditionally the idealists.”
Meanwhile, Sanders continues packing bigger crowds than ever in the battleground state of California. In Sacramento, Sanders drew a crowd of fifteen thousand:
From the standpoint of social class, here is where Sacramento is, in terms of the new Pew Research report quoted at the start of this piece, and the likely attendees of Sanders’ rally:
Which brings us to former Bill Clinton campaign official, James Carville:
— Morning Joe (@Morning_Joe) May 12, 2016
Is it any wonder he sees the need for the Clinton team to start cozying up to Sanders? He is right. Bernie Sanders doesn’t need Hillary Clinton, but she most definitely needs him.
The longer it takes for Clinton to sit down with Sanders and hammer out an agreeable DNC platform, the less chance Sanders will be effective in delivering his following to Clinton. Waiting until the convention, it seems, will make matters far worse than they are now. As it is, at least one third will not vote Clinton in November, choosing, instead, to either abstain from voting, or voting Green. Another portion of Sanders’ following has told pollsters, 4 in 10 West Virginian Sanders voters for example, that they will vote for Trump in the event Sanders doesn’t win the Democratic nomination. This is happening even before the general election has started, with a candidate whose favorables are the lowest seen in quite some time.
This primary has turned out no less ugly than 2008 was. Perhaps it is even uglier because it follows 2008. The same ugly divide and conquer techniques are being used by a desperate Clinton campaign, without regard for the change in circumstance, this time around. In 2008, we were at the start of what would become The Great Recession and we did not know what would come. Today, as much as the media has abstained from fully reporting on the extent of the misery, particularly over the past two years, the general feeling of impending failure that is experienced by millions of Americans who have fallen further down the social strata, or even completely out of their class, there is no need for media validation of their plight. A large enough portion of the electorate is angry and cognizant not only of its condition, but how it got it. That explains exactly why establishment candidates were spurned on the right. They were the pawns in a huge con game. But their counterparts on the left were no less pawns in the same con and they see, perhaps to a somewhat lesser extent, the establishment as at least being complicit in the con. That explains the success of Bernie Sanders in garnering about half the Democratic vote.
As the Democratic primary is drawing to a close and Donald Trump is the victor in the GOP’s, we are beginning to learn about the Republican establishment’s attempts to mitigate the damage caused by its losses in its own party. Lee Fang and Zaid Jilani’s The Intercept headline reads:
“THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY’S 2012 platform pledged to “curb the influence of lobbyists and special interests.” But the 2016 convention in Philadelphia will be officially hosted by lobbyists and corporate executives, a number of whom are actively working to undermine progressive policies achieved by President Barack Obama, including health care reform and net neutrality.
Some of the members of the 2016 Democratic National Convention Host Committee, whose job is to organize the logistics and events for the convention, are hardly even Democratic Party stalwarts, given that many have donated and raised thousands of dollars for Republican presidential and congressional candidates this cycle.”
Michael Sainato’s Observer headline reads:
Such a swift transition illuminates what we knew all along: Hillary will do anything to get elected
“Renaissance Technologies, a hedge fund founded by billionaire James Simons, donated over $13 million to Sen. Ted Cruz’s failed presidential campaign, through President Bob Mercer. For a guy who’s supposed to be pretty smart with his money, the ROI on that one has got to sting. Nevertheless, now that Mr. Cruz is out of the race, Mr. Simons’ Rennaissance Technologies has begun pouring millions of dollars into Hillary Clinton‘s campaign, as the hedge fund has donated over $2 million to Ms. Clinton so far this election cycle. Euclidean Capital—also owned by Mr. Simons—has given the Clinton campaign over $7 million in contributions, and the figures are likely to increase as Ms. Clinton slowly transitions her attention from Democratic Primary opponent Bernie Sanders to the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump. Renaissance Technologies was called out by Senator John McCain in 2014 for evading nearly $6 billion in taxes by disguising day-to-day investments as long term investments, and in 2015, Bloomberg ran an articledescribing how the firm lobbied the U.S. Labor Department for special tax evading privileges.”
The vast majority of Americans know that money in politics and the establishment’s active role in facilitating the conditions for it, are what has led us to this low point. Many, rightly or wrongly, trace back this descent into corruption to the triangulation of the 1990’s that candidate Clinton continues to defend to this day.
It is irresponsible of the pundit class to alienate Democrats who don’t fall in behind the Clinton parade, in an attempt to get them to submit. As long as the last of this primary’s voters have yet to vote, such talk will have little to no effect, at best. At worst, it will continue to deepen an already widening rift. This election is very different from 2008. Anyone who operates under the assumption that we will see a repeat of the unification we saw after Barack Obama’s nomination is in for a big surprise. The water that passed under that bridge long flowed to the end of the stream and is no longer a part of that river.
America has changed a lot in the last eight years and so have its citizens. Some have been beaten, never to regain their former strength. Some have been embittered by the hopelessness that has settled in. Many are displaying a resolve to break with the past. In a general election, such feelings translate into trouble for a candidate who can’t get more than half her party’s support.
Without a genuine effort to bridge the differences between progressives and liberals, not through more campaign promises but firm and believable commitments in the candidate and the party’s platform, failure in the general election will remain a distinct possibility for as long as a significant enough number of voters who demand change are left feeling what George Eliot once wrote about defeat: “There are many victories worse than a defeat.”
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A lot of people, former House Speaker John Boehner included, are still expecting some fallout from the FBI’s investigation of Clinton and her handling of email while Secretary of State. I am rather dubious that anything serious will come of it, even though I’ve written in the recent past about what I feel are failures in judgment and serious ethical breaches, rather than behaviors that amount to crime. That said, Clinton’s former IT nerd was given immunity and he will be talking to the FBI, as will several of her aides and Clinton herself.
“New emails released by a conservative watchdog group on Thursday appear to show former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton directing a top aide to call her via an unsecured phone line when technical troubles prevented a secure phone conversation.”
Read the rest on TheHill.com
“The head of the FBI on Wednesday appeared to challenge Hillary Clinton’s characterization of the federal investigation into her private email server.
Clinton and her allies have repeatedly called the probe a routine “security inquiry.”
But Director James Comey told reporters that wasn’t an accurate description.
“It’s in our name. I’m not familiar with the term ‘security inquiry,’ ” Comey said at a roundtable with reporters, according to Politico.
“We’re conducting an investigation … That’s what we do,” he said, according to Fox News.
Comey reportedly declined to say whether or not the investigation is “criminal” in nature.”
Read the rest on TheHill.com