Sunday, February 24, 2019

Selected Recent Tweets 2019-02-24

[on Clobuchar’s student loan debt plan] At least, go back to allowing student loan debt to be dissolved in bankruptcy, and go back to allowing a dignified bankruptcy, none of this "reform" garbage. That's not enough, but it would for sure be better than what we have now.
But you know, she can't. I think she's a bought and paid for creature of the big money - that's what this shows

If we wanted to aid the people of Venezuela, we could lift the sanctions on the country. But, no, gotta get that oil. It's cooking the world, but gotta get that oil. –

[On preferring Warren to Sanders for reasons of representation] The black union people in Milwaukee, they loved [Bernie]. He was speaking their language.

In what world is rectifying economic inequities not a part of eliminating racism?

Fk. USA declares war on Venezuela, more-or-less. –

[In response to Paul Krugman, on health plans] One thing you are missing is how very much most people hate the [health] insurance companies. No medieval landlord was crueler. –

We have taken small steps, while the destroyers of the Earth have taken strides.

[On climate change] When packs of wolf packs are arriving it's OK to cry wolf. –

[on the idea that one needs a racially uniform population to successfully implement universal health care]
"All of our history is a coming together
  You want pure you're gonna have caves again.
Anyway who needs a freak like the grand dragon,
  So full of s..t his breath makes acid rain." [Bruce Cockburn lyric, slightly misheard] –

[On Sanders remarks on “humanitarian aid” in Venezuela] Or maybe he's a politician, doing what he needs to do. People forget that Sen Sanders is a pol. An unusually decent one, but he still has constituents to answer to. –

[On the sophisticated plagiarism that has emerged in Amazon ebooks] Hack writing and scam publishing for the 21st century, and Amazon doesn't care. Amazon makes money from it, hand over fist. –

Chavez, Maduro's predecessor, nationalized the Venezuelan oil industry and the US can't tolerate that. –

It's not so much that they want Venezuela's oil, though they do, but they hate having Venezuela's oil taken away from them. –

[What do white rural voters want?] Someone to represent them. They don't see themselves in the sophisticates, often children of the rich, they are usually offered. They're one rung up on the social ladder and they're determined to keep someone below them.

A lot of white suburbanites want the same thing.

Let me suggest that a lot of what goes wrong [in US foreign policy] is that we are using the military to resolve our internal conflicts, much like a man who has problems at home picking bar fights. It doesn't resolve problems at home, and it makes new problems outside. –

Cornyn, while people who sounded like you were building camps and ovens, socialists were dying to stop them.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Reading the Tea Leaves: the Democratic Presidential Nominee

I think we are likely to get a “socially liberal, economically conservative” woman of color. (And no, not necessarily Kamala Harris.)

I have a sick feeling. I am not sure that any economic conservative can win the necessary votes. The Democrats who vote will vote for her, but it will be hard for her to get the black working class and the youth vote to work for her enthusiastically, or to turn out for her.

Assuming she does win, we will then face more years where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Better that than the party of rape and treason, to be sure, but hard years. And who knows how any “economic conservative” will deal with the fossil fuel industry?

Sanders is in. Sigh.

He made the announcement this morning, on Vermont Public Radio.

On the one hand, I like him and his politics. On the other hand, he will have trouble winning both the nomination and the general election. There's a lot of women and blacks who hate him. His hippie and socialist past will be dragged out by his Republican opponent. And I fear that just running will kill him. The Presidency ages people, just running ages people, and Sanders is already an old man.

And where will the born-again progressives of the Democratic Party get their ideas from, if they cannot steal them from Sanders?

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Bernie Sanders on sexism among his supporters

(More old business. I get tired of Sanders being blasted as sexist. I don't think he is, and he definitely doesn't condone it among his supporters.)

"It's disgusting. [...] Anybody who is supporting me and who is doing sexist things, we don't want them. I don't want them. That is not what this campaign is about." – Sen. Bernard Sanders

On the Sanders Medicare for All Proposal and the Problem of Health Care in the USA

(Old business; I'm cleaning out my backlog of "To be writtens.")

"Medicare for All," as advocated by the social democrats and democratic socialists, means universal coverage without out-of-pocket expenses. The Sanders proposal can be read at What would be covered and how the system would be funded is spelled out.

"A method to stop price gouging by insurers and providers with market power." But this is why the insurance companies were brought on board; without guarantees that their profits would be maintained, even increased, they would have made the plan impossible to pass; it barely passed as it was.

As of 2017, the CDC found that 28.9 million Americans had no health plan. Full report:

The ACA has huge coverage gaps (one of the largest is due to the Roberts Court.) Once people have enough income for the system to require insurance, the expenses fall mostly on working poor and lower middle-income people. This could, of course, be changed, but it would require either price regulation or higher taxes, both of which are going to be difficult.

The health insurance companies used to have full-time employees devoted to finding reasons to deny care to cancer patients, and other high-cost insureds. I see no reason beyond expediency to give those businesses anything – they've made their pile. Capitalism-worship is the only reason they still exist.

Considering pragmatic politics, I don't see good solutions to any of this. We need to fight to keep what we have, however poor it is. I don't want to lose the ACA trying to get something better. And the fight divides the opposition to the fascists.

Reflections on the Green New Deal

It's good, it's not perfect, and it's not enough.

It's a resolution. I support its passage. You can read it here. The bill as it stands mandates nothing and collects no revenue. Instead, it sets out an ambitious list of goals. The basic proposal is to switch the USA off of fossil energy and onto "renewables" (not completely defined – is nuclear power renewable?) and to hire a lot of people to do the job. There is also something of a laundry list of moderate left goals: indigenous rights, "equal pay for equal work," and so on. It's not a bad list. Some of the goals probably conflict with others, global policy must be addressed, and I hate the callout to family farms. (See Sarah Taber's critique.)

But it should have been passed 25 years ago.

By now we should have run the numbers and be implementing the programs. That we have not run the numbers worries me. A lot. We are near to the breaking point, and we haven't even tried to figure out a plan that will work. Will wind and solar power be enough? How many climate refugees will there be? We don't know any of this. We don't even have estimates.

If it were up to me, I would put some of my old colleagues at the national labs on the job. Time has run out.

We need a real plan, not just ambitious goals.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Wealth and Race: Reflections on Two State of the Union Responses

I have watched the official Democratic response (10 minutes) from Stacey Abrams and the unofficial and resented response (30 minutes) from Sen. Bernard Sanders.

Abrams gave a short response, heavy on solidarity and consensus. It was impressive, the moreso since this is a woman who probably lost the governorship of Georgia due to Republican electoral shenanigans, and there are voters who just eat this stuff up, but I doubt that any meaningful compromise with the extremists who control the Republican Party is possible. Yet this is apparently the official position of the Democratic Party, as it has been for decades as much of the country was lost to Democrats.

After Abrams, Sanders gave a well-organized long response on social media, giving credit to Abrams. His response contrasted a democratic socialist position with that of President Trump and the Republicans. He started with a scathing critique of wealth inequality, moved on to the trade deficit and off-shoring of jobs, infrastructure, privatization, and health care. He quoted Martin Luther King, Jr. in support of this. And he went on. It was a very good speech – I have seldom seen Sanders given credit as an orator, but he is a very good one, and there was substance as well as style in his response.

I wish the Democratic leadership would take more of this up, but Sanders criticizes the very wealthy who fund many of the party's campaigns. It is striking how, even before Sanders gave his speech, there was talk about his trying to upstage Abrams, how even just giving a response on social media, which he has now done for three years, was somehow an attack on women and people of color. I don't see it. He spoke after Abrams, on platforms with much less reachthan national television, and gave her credit. He's a sitting Senator, he represents the views of a substantial faction of the Democratic Party, and I can't see any reason why he shouldn't give a response. No-one criticized Kamala Harris for giving a pre-response before Trump's speech – why does Sanders get slammed for it?

I think it is because critics of the disparities of wealth are always attacked, and this is an easy way to do it. Sanders is called racist and sexist. Elizabeth Warren is called racist. The people who do this haven't yet figured out how to call the Puerto Rican Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez either racist or sexist, but there is already talk of running a Democratic candidate against her in the next primaries. Abrams, who probably privately is as much a critic of wealth as anyone, gave a speech which didn't touch on wealth at all, instead calling for consensus when she knows better than any of these that consensus would be unjust.

True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice. ― Martin Luther King Jr.