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Bernie and the Tea Party

Really enjoyed Kevin Drum’s (presumably) final take on why he never took to Bernie.  A little harsher than I’d be, but I think Drum is far more right than not:

Bernie’s explanation for everything he wants to do—his theory of change, or theory of governing, take your pick—is that we need a revolution in this country. The rich own everything. Income inequality is skyrocketing. The middle class is stagnating. The finance industry is out of control. Washington, DC, is paralyzed.

But as Bill Scher points out, the revolution that Bernie called for didn’t show up. In fact, it’s worse than that: we were never going to get a revolution, and Bernie knew it all along. Think about it: has there ever been an economic
revolution in the United States? Stretching things a bit, I can think of two:

  • The destruction of the Southern slave economy following the Civil War
  • The New Deal

The first of these was 50+ years in the making and, in the end, required a bloody, four-year war to bring to a conclusion. The second happened only after an utter collapse of the economy, with banks closing, businesses failing, wages plummeting, and unemployment at 25 percent. That’s what it takes to bring about a revolution, or even something close to it.

We’re light years away from that right now. Unemployment? Yes, 2 or 3 percent of the working-age population has dropped out of the labor force, but the headline unemployment rate is 5 percent. Wages? They’ve been stagnant since the turn of the century, but the average family still makes close to $70,000, more than nearly any other country in the world. Health care? Our system is a mess, but 90 percent of the country has insurance coverage. Dissatisfaction with the system? According to Gallup, even among those with incomes under $30,000, only 27 percent are dissatisfied with their personal lives.

Like it or not, you don’t build a revolution on top of an economy like this. Period. If you want to get anything done, you’re going to have to do it the old-fashioned way: through the slow boring of hard wood.

Why do I care about this? Because if you want to make a difference in this country, you need to be prepared for a very long, very frustrating slog. You have to buy off interest groups, compromise your ideals, and settle for half loaves—all the things that Bernie disdains as part of the corrupt mainstream establishment. In place of this he promises his followers we can get everything we want via a revolution that’s never going to happen. And when that revolution inevitably fails, where do all his impressionable young followers go? Do they join up with the corrupt establishment and commit themselves to the slow boring of hard wood? Or do they give up?

Also listened to a really good interview with HUD Secretary Julian Castro today and he remarked, without calling out Bernie by name, that we don’t need a Democratic party that becomes the mirror image of the Tea party by over-promising with political rhetoric not grounded in policy reality.  As I’ve written before, this, as much as anything is what concerns me about Bernie is turning the Democratic Party into a mirror image of the Republican Party.

Quick hits (part II)

1) How Intel made the wrong bet on the future of technology 10 years ago.

2) Contrary to what politicians and media would have you believe “normal America,” is not some small town in “the heartland,” but rather, a racially diverse, mid-size metropolitan area.

3) Jon Cohn on why it is so hard to keep health care prices down:

If you want to know why it’s so hard to fight the pharmaceutical industry and reduce spending on prescription drugs, pay close attention to a new Obama administrationinitiative and the reaction it’s getting on Capitol Hill — even from would-be allies in the Democratic Party.

The initiative seeks to change how Medicare pays for cancer therapies and other medications that physicians administer directly to patients in their offices or other outpatient settings. Under the current arrangement, Medicare basically reimburses doctors for the price of these drugs and then adds on an extra fee.

Not everybody agrees, however. The administration’s proposal has provokedintense opposition from the pharmaceutical industry and other physician groups, such as oncologists, for whom the existing system is extremely lucrative. They insist the proposed changes could disrupt the medication supply for cancer patients and other people in need of life-saving medication — arguments that some patient organizations have also made.

4) Inciting political anger is a lucrative business.

5) Actual science behind “resting bitch face.

6) The N&O on the recent federal court decision upholding NC’s Voter ID law:

One and all, these changes in state and local law would have been closely scrutinized by the Justice Department, in pre-clearance, and probably disallowed.

In upholding the recent monkey business in voter-eligibility requirements and procedures, Judge Schroeder, a George W. Bush appointee, wrote with wonderful obtuseness: “In North Carolina’s recent history … certainly for the last quarter-century, there is little official discrimination to consider.” Which raises the question of what the weasel words “little” and “official” mean in context. My own judgment is that Schroeder must occupy a noiseless and newsless cocoon.

7) Extend the range of you remote car key.

8) What do you do with the prisoner/whistleblower who reports the egregious malfeasance of prison guards?  Why, in America, punish him all the more, of course.

9) I’d been wanting a piece explaining how Leicester City has basically pulled off the most improbably feat in modern sports history (seriously, it’s the maintaining this level over a full 38 game season that is so amazing) and Slate has come through:

The best tactics in the world can help you steal a couple of games you shouldn’t win. They can’t steal you a league title. To win the Premier League, you need great players, and Leicester has them. For a team operating on a limited budget, the most valuable asset is the late bloomer, someone whose growth curve shoots skyward after the big clubs have taken their look and moved on. Right back Danny Simpson and midfielder Danny Drinkwater, who made his first appearance for England in March, spent time in Manchester United’s academy. Defender Robert Huth was brought to England from Germany by Chelsea, while Kasper Schmeichel, son of Manchester United great Peter Schmeichel, started his career at Manchester City. All are now regular starters for a team that is assured of finishing above those who deemed them surplus.

Leicester has somehow gotten all of these late bloomers to flower at the exact same moment. The 25-year-old Algerian Riyad Mahrez, English football’s newly anointed player of the year, has scored more goals this season than he did in his previous four of first-team soccer combined. Striker Jamie Vardy scored five goals last year in his first Premier League season and is currently on 22 and counting. Leicester’s youngest regular starter, pint-sized destroyer of worlds N’Golo Kanté, was brought over from the midtable French club Caen this summer for $8 million; he is now wanted by somewhere between most and all of Europe’s top clubs.

If any one of these players had broken out last season, he likely would have been sold off for a handsome profit. Leicester City would have gotten paid, the player would have gotten paid, and the fans would have been upset but ultimately accepted the realities of the game’s economics. Everybody would have been OK with the status quo.

10) Reagan’s tax cuts were definitely not the key to economic growth in the 1980’s.  Of course, Republicans will never stop claiming otherwise.

11) Will Saletan with the ultimate takedown of the polls say Bernie is more electable nonsense.

12) Women curse in public way less than men.  Good for them, damnit!  Seriously.  Not a big fan.  Nonetheless, it’s subtle sexism at work.

13) Yes,  Cruz naming Carly Fiorina as his VP runnnig mate was very short-term thinking, but as Seth Masket points out, VP selections are (lamentably) almost always short-term thinking.

But as we reflect on Ted Cruz’s pick, it’s worth remembering how many presidential candidates picked running mates based on immediate exigencies and naked political calculation. The multi-year scrutiny — with all the debates, speeches, ads, and punditry — that we apply to the top of the ticket is simply not in effect for the position that’s a heartbeat away from the presidency. It’s usually just a handful of people thinking about what will get their campaign through the next few months.

14) Republicans like to point to high risk pools as the key to replacing Obamacare.  Drum points out that there’s no way this would actually work.

15) And Drum again, with a brief look at a recent Pew report that interestingly shows that Democrats have a real education gap while Republicans have an age gap.

16) Our system of cash bail that punishes people for being poor is uniquely horrible and needs to be done away with.

17) I used to really like Salon way back when it was new.  I was even a subscriber.  Now, I pretty much only read it when I want to see what the far left is thinking.  This is an example of why.

18) British physicians urge a switch to e-cigarettes over the real ones.  Yes, harm reduction!  American doctors remain skeptical, but hard for me to see how this is not a positive step.

19) Love this Op-Ed from my NCSU colleague, Mark Nance, on how HB2 is part of the fruits of gerrymandering:

Of all the amazing aspects of this story, however, what is most striking is what’s not there. By most accounts, McCrory was not the driver of the bill. He likely preferred a very narrow bill to overturn the Charlotte ordinance as a strategy against Democratic gubernatorial candidate Roy Cooper. So where are those who really pushed the bill? Where has the GOP leadership been and why aren’t they on the front lines defending the bill? Where are the 11 Democrats who voted for it? Why aren’t they defending the good reputation of North Carolina?

The Associated Press recently went to great lengths to get comments from all lawmakers who voted for the bill, with miserably bad response rates. It took a comment from the president of the United States to get Senate leader Phil Berger to respond, an exception that proves the rule: The politicians who pushed hardest for this bill have said nothing in the face of staunch criticism. Why?

They don’t have to. About 90 percent of the legislators who voted for the bill either face no challengers in their elections this fall or won their last election by more than 10 percentage points.

20) Obama wants law enforcement to use smart guns.  Smart.  We need to create a market for these and a strong push from the federal government would really help with that.

21) Ross Douthat trying to understand how so many Republicans support Trump despite his obvious handicap in the general election:

On the evidence of past campaigns, this engagement inclines them (in the aggregate) to balance ideology and electability when they vote. That is, as engaged partisans they’re more likely to have particular litmus tests, more likely to have specific issues or causes that they care about. But they’re also more likely to loathe the other party, the other ideological team, with a passion that makes winning in November seem essential. And because they follow politics relatively closely, they’re more likely to have a clear sense of who can win and who simply cannot…

But here the model isn’t completely broken, because a majority of Republican voters don’t actually believe that Trump faces long odds, don’t agree that he’s less electable than Cruz or Kasich (or Rubio or whomever further back). Instead, since last fall Republican voters have consistently told pollsters that they think Trump is the candidate most likely to winin November. So the party’s voters are choosing electability — as they see it — over ideology; they’re just in the grip of a strong delusion about Trump’s actual chances against Hillary Clinton.

The reason for this delusion might be the key unresolved question of Trump’s strange ascent. Is it the fruit of Trump’s unparalleled media domination — does he seem more electable than all his rivals because he’s always on TV? Is it a case of his victor’s image carrying all before it — if you win enough primary contests, even with 35 percent of the vote, people assume that your winning streak can be extended into November? Is this just how a personality cult rooted in identity politics works — people believe in the Great Leader’s capacity to crush their tribe’s enemies and disregard all contrary evidence?

22) How regulating banks is like getting hockey players to wear helmets.

 

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