Friday, April 29, 2016

In What Moral Universe Is This Acceptable? Clinton, Cruz, Trump, and Child Refugees

Democracy Now: "She's Baldly Lying:" Dana Frank Responds to Hillary Clinton's Defense of Her Role in Honduras Coup

The echoes of Chile, Allende, Pinochet are strong. It seems likely to me that Clinton's mentor and friend Henry Kissinger was consulted on the Honduran coup, and perhaps the CIA helped bring it about, as well.

The Guardian, today: Trump, Cruz aides advised Guatemalan candidate vowing televised executions.

Remember all those child refugees on the US southern border? Remember? Three of our major Presidential candidates contributed to making them refugees.

The Guardian: "Flee or die:" violence drives Central America’s child migrants to US border.

In what moral universe is this acceptable? For the USA, Clinton is far and away the best candidate. But as far as I can see, she ought to be up on war crimes charges, right beside Kissinger. And Trump and Cruz, given the chance, would likely do even worse.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Me, to a Clintonite

Threats [of a really awful Republican] get old, when repeated often enough. Last time it was Romney, the time before it was McCain, before that Bush. Threatening people with the genuine horrors that a Crump Presidency will visit on them will get some them to vote, yes, but not enthusiastically so, and others will simply stay home. Maybe that will be enough. But do you want to risk it? Wouldn’t it be better to get more enthusiastic supporters?

C’mon, Dems. Give us something to vote for.

Clinton: A Prayer for Graciousness in Victory

If Clinton becomes, as has long seemed likely, the winner of the Democratic Presidential nomination, it becomes her job to win over the Democratic left, a much larger group than anyone was aware at the start of the primaries. Bashing Sanders is not going to get these people to turn out, let alone work for the Clinton campaign, yet there are too many of them to ignore if Clinton is to win. If the Democrats are to win, Clinton’s campaign needs to deal. I hope she is willing to do so.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Hillary Clinton, Money, and Social Climbing


(This comes out of a heated discussion with some Clinton supporters on Balloon Juice.)

The problem the line of argument made in defense of Hillary Clinton's acceptance of millions from the bankers is that it is far too much like Citizens United. No, there is no smoking gun. No, it is not believable that that money and the related social connections had no influence on the Clintons and supporters of Hillary Clinton have to tie themselves into knots defending them.

I am reminded, too, of aristocratic politics. The Clintons, starting from humble beginnings, have joined the rich and powerful: vacations with Henry Kissinger, daughter marrying a bankster (talk about access!) What else am I to think if not social climbing and loyalty to their adopted class? It seems that along with the return of 19th-century disparities of wealth has come the return of 19th-century class conduct and relations.

Does this mean that all the Clintons' acts are negative? No, of course not. And it is easy to imagine that President Trump, Cruz, or Kasich would be much, much worse. But neo-liberal economic policy is only good for the very wealthy and brutal anti-democratic foreign policy is … come to think of it only good for the very wealthy, too. Anything the rest of us get from a Clinton Presidency will come from condescension.

Which is better than nothing. But I would rather have someone who was of all the people.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Rob Reich, on Sanders as an effective legislator

On some show I can't identify; musician Rebecca Lynn sent in a question and Reich answered it.

Rebecca Lynn: "What do you say in response to Barney Frank saying that Bernie Sanders was ineffective in congress?"
Robert Reich: "Well, actually, I was there! I mean, I was Secretary of Labor through some of those years. I saw how effective Bernie actually was. He was tenacious. He kept getting changes, amendments, and very large pieces of legislation … his name was often not on those pieces of legislation. He did not have a, and does not have, a huge ego, so he didn't hold out for his name to be highly placed on pieces of legislation, but he did hold out for amendments and for changes that almost, in every case - virtually in every case - helped working people, and helped the poor, and I saw it again and again and again. He was an effective legislator - in fact, one of the most effective legislators, because the more you work behind the scenes and don't try to push yourself out there and don't try to get the limelight, the more effective you can be, which, ironically, invites the complaint from some people that he was ineffective because he was not in the limelight. He was behind the scenes, enormously effective." — link
(If anyone can identify a video of the show so that I can provide a better  link, please comment.)

Friday, April 15, 2016

To Krugman, on Sanders

In response to Krugman's Why I Haven’t Felt The Bern.

What, promising more than he can deliver? I'm sure no politician has ever done that before.

I think you're being seduced by the promise of competent technocratic governance on the side of the Clinton campaign, just as your profession was, decades ago, when it jumped over the right edge. The theories looked nice and the data would surely line up any day...month...year...decade...someday.

Unh-unh. They never lined up. Instead we have the new depression and the new wars. I'll return to those points. Meantime, let's look at Sanders.

 Is Sanders promising more than a Sanders administration could deliver? Oh, probably. Is something like his vision possible? Yes, very probably. We are long past the point where Keynes could rightly excoriate Trotsky for having no real solutions, and therefore only being able to deliver brutality. Keynes himself was to provide the basis of those solutions, and others followed. A modern neo-socialism, guided by the economic and sociological work of the past century, could be made to work, if the political conflicts could be resolved. It may even be that a neo-socialist solution is the only possible way for democracy to survive the hard times that are upon us.

Now, let's take a look at Hillary Clinton's technocratic solutions. They are much like William Clinton's technocratic solutions of the 1990s which, we all know, failed miserably, and are still delivering poverty. The Clintons are a political team. They share many ideas and their economics is still a failed neo-liberalism. Her allies and backers support it entirely. There is a second kind of technocratic solution she advocates, what is more usually called realpolitik. We had all best beware of it. Realpolitik is a another failed 20th century policy that has killed hundreds of thousands, if not millions.

I don't believe Hillary Clinton is the sensible humane technocrat; I think that is Bernard Sanders.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Welfare reform: the evil of the lesser evil

The recent foofooraw over the Clinton welfare reform led me to do some digging, and I was shocked and outraged by what I found for. So far I have been outraged for three days — it just keeps coming back to me.

What I found …
  • In 1994 Florida started a study of hard-limited welfare benefits. Clients were randomly sorted into one of two groups: a control group that got benefits similar to the old AFDC system and a group that got time-limited benefits as in the 1996 PRWORA system.
  • In 1996 the Clinton administration passed the PRWORA welfare reform bill including time-limited benefits
  • In 1999 the Florida study wrapped up
And there matters stood until 2013, when Muennig, Rosen, and Wilde of Columbia's Mailman School of Public Health published an analysis of the study data, “Welfare programs that target workforce participation may negatively impact mortality.” The “may” is academic modesty; it is nearly certain that the hard-limited group in Florida had a 16% higher mortality rate than the control group.

And this is now the law of the land, though I have heard that some changes made under Obama have softened the cruelty of the law.

Both William and Hillary Clinton tout PRWORA as an achievement, and I have not heard of remorse on their part.
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 Economist Robert Waldmann is the main blogging voice on this subject, with a series of articles titled "Welfare Reform Kills:" 1, 2, 3.