Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

No, Sanders is not trying to boot moderates out of the Democratic Party and erect a progressives-purity test. He just objects to Clinton’s misrepresenting herself as a progressive Democrat when she is, by her own fairly recent and proud description, a moderate Democrat.

I’ve been a fan of New Republic senior editor Brian Beutler dating back to his days as a Salon writer, but in a piece today called “Bernie Sanders Will Be Unelectable If He Keeps This Up” he misinterprets the essence of Sanders’s current criticism of Clinton as a fair-weather progressive in a way that I think needs quick rebuttal.

Clinton has been campaigning on the claim, which she makes repeatedly, that she’s a progressive, but one who wants to get things done.  Sanders pointed out, on twitter, that Clinton herself was until very recently characterizing herself as a moderate. Beutler writes:

The spat began two days ago, when Sanders said he thinks Clinton’s only a progressive “some days.” Clinton and her allies leapt to her defense, which in turn prompted Sanders to run through a litany of her heresies.

Here’s how he summed up his basic argument [in a twitter post]:

“You can be a moderate. You can be a progressive. But you cannot be a moderate and a progressive.”

Beutler interprets this as Sanders establishing a purity test, not for a candidate to represent herself to voters as a progressive but instead to run as a Democrat at all.  He thinks Sanders wants to establish a mirror image of Tea Party purity, forcing candidates and elected officials from the party itself if they don’t meet the issue-by-issue test and effectively repelling moderate voters by a message that they are not welcome within the Democratic Party.

But Clinton is, as she has proudly said of herself pre-Sanders-boom, a moderate.  Not on every issue, but certainly on most economic and regulatory issues.  A favorite slogan of hers is essentially a Republican one: she wants to increase incomes, not taxes.

By which she means, particularly, that she doesn’t think healthcare insurance premiums and out-of-pocket healthcare costs count in tallying up “incomes” as long as those payments are made to private insurers and private hospitals, physicians and medical labs.  Better to pay more (much more, if you have a large deductible and, say, also a large hospital bill) in such expenses to the private sector than to pay a set, regular rate for all or most healthcare costs if that set, regular rate is paid to the federal government and called a tax rather than a premium. Or called medical bills.

Clearly, you can be a moderate on one issue and a progressive on another; Sanders himself has been a moderate on gun-control issues.  His objection is to Clinton’s sudden repackaging of her general ideological label as progressive rather than moderate.  She is not, overall, a progressive.  She is, overall, a moderate.

He’s complaining about the false labeling, the false advertising.  He thinks voters are entitled to truth in advertising.  He does not think moderate candidates and elected officials should be booted from the party, or moderate Democrats made to feel unwelcome within it.

Chris Christie Says We Should Not Treat Ebola Patients, Because No One Wants Their Kids to Get Ebola, and Anyway We’re Trying to Develop an Ebola Vaccine.

Okay, here’s what Christie actually said:

I’m tired of hearing about the minimum wage. I really am. I don’t think there’s a mother or father sitting around the kitchen table tonight in America saying, ‘You know, honey, if our son or daughter could just make a higher minimum wage, my God all of our dreams would be realized.’ Is that what parents aspire to?

That’s from a transcript posted yesterday on the New York Times website in a Taking Note blog post by Eleanor Randolph.  Christie said this during his already infamous luncheon speech to the Chamber of Commerce in Washington on Wednesday.  (Thanks, Governor!)  Randolph reported that “[e]ven that crowd had the decency not to applaud” Christie’s Marie Antoinette impersonation.

My guess is that the absence of applause was partly in reaction to the jarring non sequitur—and to the realization that this guy, who’s apparently planning to run for the Republican nomination for president, thinks we need to choose between addressing a current situation and trying to prevent the situation from reoccurring, or continuing to occur, in the years and decades to come.  Or maybe it occurred to them that Christie promises that there will be no such thing as low-paying jobs in America once the Republicans gain full control of the government.*

Ms. Randolph writes that there are nearly half a million people in New Jersey who earn less than $10.10 an hour, the rate that Democrats in New Jersey and elsewhere are proposing as the minimum wage.  There also are many thousands of Ebola cases in West Africa right now, and the possibility that the disease will spread at some point in this country beyond the three cases diagnosed here.  But there’s the potential to develop an Ebola vaccine—if the NIH receives sufficient funding to proceed—so there’s no reason to try to treat anyone who has the disease.

And anyway, I’m tired of hearing about Ebola.  I really am.

Christie for President!

*Paragraph typo-corrected and edited slightly for clarity. 10/24 at 10:11 p.m.


UPDATE: Ah.  I knew the Comments thread on this post would be fun.  Here’s the thread as of 6:14 p.m.:

Axt113/ October 24, 2014 3:10 pm

It’s not about the final aspiration, it’s about having enough to not only live on, but also to achieve said aspirations.

College ain’t cheap fatass.


Mark Jamison/ October 24, 2014 3:19 pm

There are more than a few people sitting around the kitchen table wondering about how they are going to make it on their minimum wage jobs. I wonder what the impact is on their kids as they sit and listen to Mom and Dad worry about making the rent or putting food on the table.

Christie and his ilk live in a fantasy land where everyone just magically pulls on their bootstraps and dreams come true.


Urban Legend/ October 24, 2014 3:26 pm

If he would stop fighting it and just listened to the American people — who by a strong majority want it — he wouldn’t hear as much about it. What a jerk!


 ME/ October 24, 2014 5:57 pm

Normally, I would say that all three of your comments are spot-on, guys. But on second thought, I think you all just have no foresight. Once Republicans control all branches of all levels of government, and we start taxing only people who make less than $10.10 an hour, we’ll be able to fund development of a vaccine for Ebola AND replace all those jobs at Walmart and McDonald’s with management positions at Koch Industries or entry-level trader positions on Wall Street.

Trickle-up economics is awesome.

Yup.  This is fun.

Mike Huckabee points the way to nullifying Citizens United and McCutcheon v. FEC: Enforcing the enabling-legislation requirement!

Unlike in Wisconsin, same-sex marriage prohibitions in South Carolina and Wyoming weren’t stricken directly, but rather as a consequence of circuit court rulings against bans in nearby states. And Republicans there are intent on dragging their heels. Rather than accepting defeat, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and Wyoming Governor Matt Mead both plan to enforce their state SSM bans to the bitter end. But whereas these governors are probably just playing footsie with nullification, and ultimately plan to issue same-sex marriage licenses when federal judges order them to, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee is all in on the idea that Republican governors can continue to stand athwart same-sex marriage until gay people pry the veto pens from their cold dead hands.

“It is shocking that many elected officials, attorneys and judges think that a court ruling is the ‘final word,'” Huckabee said. “It most certainly is not. The courts are one branch of government, and equal to the other two, but not superior to either and certainly not to both. Even if the other two branches agree with the ruling, the people’s representatives have to pass enabling legislation to authorize same sex marriage, and the President (or Governor in the case of the state) has to sign it. Otherwise, it remains the court’s opinion. It is NOT the ‘law of the land’ as is often heralded.”

— The Scariest Reaction to SCOTUS’s Gay-Marriage Bombshell Wasn’t From Ted Cruz, Brian Beutler, The New Republic, yesterday

And to think that for more than four years now we’ve all been treating Citizens United as the final word on those money-is-speech and corporations-are-people things, even though there’s been no enabling legislation enacted by any of the people’s representatives. Silly us.

I totally disagree with Beutler.  This isn’t scary at all!

The Etymology of the Cooptation of ‘Freedom’ by the Tea Party

Readers of my AB posts know that a recurring theme of mine is the right’s cooptation of the word “freedom” to disembody the word from actual physical freedom–e.g., from imprisonment–or from personal choice, and to instead define it as a Reagan-era Conservative Legal Movement checklist.  And that these folks achieve this by declaring it mandated by the Constitution’s “structure,” an oddly phantom foundation visible only to them. It’s a pernicious gimmick that five current Supreme Court justices are using to effectively rewrite the Constitution.

In a lengthy article published yesterday in the New Republic, Cass Sunstein, a former longtime University of Chicago law professor, then an Obama-administration official, and now a law professor at Harvard, deconstructs the provenance of this stunningly successful gimmick. The article is called “The Man Who Made Libertarians Wrong About the Constitution: How Richard Epstein’s highly influential, highly politicized scholarship cemented Tea Party dogma.” The occasion for it is a review of a newly published book by the man in question: Sunstein’s former University of Chicago law school colleague Richard Epstein titled “The Classical Liberal Constitution: The Uncertain Quest for Limited Government.”

No, Mr. Kleiner, John Roberts showed that he knows perfectly well how money works in politics.

An article by Sam Kleiner posted yesterday on the New Republic’s website is titled “John Roberts shows he has no idea how money works in politics.”

Mr. Kleiner must not understand the real purpose of the Conservative Movement’s decades-long crusade against campaign-finance laws.  In fact, Roberts showed in McCutcheon v. FEC (yet again) that he knows perfectly well how money works in politics.

If you get my drift.

Ann Romney’s blind trust had a seeing-eye dog. … Was blind but now can see….

Solamere Capital—named after an exclusive neighborhood in Utah where the family had a vacation home—was incorporated in February of 2008, only weeks after the campaign ended. Its first office address was the Romney campaign headquarters in Boston’s North End. One of its first big commitments was $10 million from Ann Romney’s blind trust… According to a copy of the Solamere prospectus that The Boston Globe obtained, they promised “unique access” to lucrative deals that the partners would land thanks to their “close personal and business relationships.” The New York Times reported that the firm ultimately raised money from a variety of Romney donors and fund-raisers, including John Miller, a longtime family friend and former corporate CEO, and Meg Whitman, the former head of eBay.

Ann Romney’s blind trust had a seeing-eye dog. The trust was blind but then could see.  Truly amazing grace.