Home Daily News Clips Friday News: Trump’s “politics of the middle finger;” “Varieties of Voodoo”

Friday News: Trump’s “politics of the middle finger;” “Varieties of Voodoo”


by Lowell

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Friday, February 19. Also check out the video from last night’s Democratic town hall in Las Vegas.

  • Video: Virginia Delegate Alfonso Lopez Speaks Out Against State Imposed Charter Schools


  • Andy Schmookler

    The news wrap-up above has several articles attacking the Sanders campaign for making irresponsible claims about how much economic growth would result from the U.S. adopting Sanders’ proposals. There is a truth and also a distortion in all that– at least so I gather from one article on the subject I’ve read. (It’s at http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2016/02/18/the_sanders_campaign_is_living_in_an_economic_fantasy_world.html.)

    I’m inclined to credit the critics who say that the projected 5.3% growth rate is quite unrealistic. But it should be noted that this projection was generated by a University of Massachusetts economist who a) did his analysis on his own, not in cahoots with the Sanders’ campaign, b) did so, according to the critic on Slate, in “good faith,” and c) is himself a supporter of and contributor to Hillary Clinton.

    So what is the culpability of the Sanders campaign?

    They have to some degree embraced the study. Perhaps one would argue that a candidate/campaign should repudiate a good-faith analysis that other experts show is flawed, even though that analysis helps bolster one’s position in an intense political campaign.

    But the critics like Krugman seem to be imputing to the Sanders people a whole lot more grievous sins than that.

    • The “more grievous sins” are generally not being realistic about…almost anything, really. I could have sworn this was the domain of Republicans, not Democrats…

      • Andy Schmookler

        Not being realistic. Is it so clear what that means?

        I think it is arguably “realistic” to say that unless there is a powerful pushback from the liberal side, we are going to lose our democracy.

        So that brings us to the “political revolution.” And if something like that is indeed necessary, would not a legitimate way of launching it be to do what Bernie is doing?

        Namely, to hold out a vision of what this country should look like — presented in the form of a variety of policy goals — that inspire people to get behind him, like: 1) single-payer Medicare for all (isn’t that what the “public option” was going to be a precursor of?), 2) tuition-free college education at public institutions, 3) a livable minimum wage, 4) overturning Citizens United and getting democracy back into, and Big Money out of, America’s political system.

        Is it “realistic” to imagine all that getting accomplished in the first couple of years of a Sanders’ presidency. No. But I think it is entirely appropriate to articulate the vision and say that this is what you’re going to fight for, inspiring people to rise up and take back their power so that these things DO become possible..

        And if we do NOT seek that political revolution, and if we manage to elect Hillary Clinton as president, then what? I argued here in a piece about a “Much Better Way for Hillary and Bernie to Compete” that unless the Republicans are swept out of power, neither potential Democratic president will be able to get ANYTHING accomplished through Congress. (There’s no reason why the Republicans wouldn’t continue to do to the next Democratic president what they’ve done so successfully against President Obama.)

        And if that’s the case, then it would seem to me that all the more “realistic” things that Hillary is talking about are even more UNREALISTIC than Bernie’s proposals– because she is not putting forward any notion of how to break through Republican obstructionism.

        So it is not nearly so obvious as it might seem on the surface just what kind of politics is “realistic” in the context of the current American political environment.

        • notjohnsmosby

          Sanders “vision” is completely unrealistic. He’s peddling a fairy tale, although he has been from the start. That’s why so many establishment Dems never paid him any attention. He’s feeding this fairy tale to people who really want to believe in fairy tales. Most Dem insiders don’t believe in fairly tales, and the intellectual dishonesty in it makes us want to puke.

          • Andy Schmookler

            Just what is Sanders proposing that is a fairy tale? And I mean, with respect to where we might move this country in a finite future. Do you think that it is impossible that we’d ever treat a college education the way we have treated high school education for generations, as something that those who have the ability and do the work can get at public expense? Do you think that it is impossible that we’d ever get to single-payer health care as a right? Do you think it is impossible that we could ever get to publicly financed elections? All these things have been accomplished in other advanced democracies. Is the United States a nation where, for some reason, it could never happen, and that it is “completely unrealistic” for a presidential candidate to run on the basis that this is what he’s going to fight for?

            BTW, how much of what FDR stood for should be condemned as “completely unrealistic”? Would you condemn FDR for calling — in his State of the Union in 1941 — for a world in which people had the Four Freedoms (of speech, of worship, from fear, from want). We still do not have such a world– but FDR did a whole lot to move the world in those directions. Should we dismiss that speech as the spinning out of a fairy tale?

          • “Just what is Sanders proposing that is a fairy tale? And I mean, with respect to where we might move this country in a finite future.” Here are three examples, but just looking at his website, I could come up with a bunch more:

            a) No chance whatsoever of getting single payer health care through Congress, even if Dems take back both Houses by small margins;
            b) No chance whatsoever of makiing college “tuition free” and “debt free”;
            c) No chance of getting the types of tax rates he’s proposing

            Now, nothing wrong with FIGHTING for all this stuff, but to think that it could actually pass Congress, even if Dems had a “filibuster-proof majority” in the Senate, is wildly unrealistic.

          • Brendan

            I think Bernie is pushing for a dream world rather than negotiating with himself before sitting down at the table a la Obama w/ the stimulus and fiscal cliff… personally, i don’t really see a problem with Bernie’s approach, which republicans have successfully used to win leverage.

            The problem with the original NYTs piece and subsequent opinion pieces is that they meander between apples and oranges, discrediting the policies w/ the ‘numbers don’t add up’ argument but then acknowledging the economists are in favor of single-payer (along w/ his other proposals), but then saying that it’s not a political reality. They then dip into the expanding government side of things without really discrediting the potential efficiencies or critiquing the main question, to what degree universal health care along with his other proposals of eliminating student debt and providing free child care, would boost and strengthen the economy. Yea, 5.3% sounds unreal, but i think a large portion of America that is struggling is actually very close to rebounding. What gets them to that tipping point? Erasing or at least easing student loan payments, raising the minimum wage and attempting to further address the health care issue, which in the grand scheme of things provided a relatively narrow benefit.

            Deficits only matter when there’s no return. I think Krugman and any other post Keynes Democrat would generally agree with that. Some of the critiques have made the point of disruption, which i think is probably the best case against Bernie’s health care and minimum wage proposals, but generally it’s more of a ‘we don’t have the stomach for the initial investment required’ argument than saying these ideas are bad economics. Rahm/Obama had the strength but didn’t have the political stomach for a full stimulus ($1.5T) that would have potentially shortened the ‘great recession.’ I’d like to see actual numbers that Bernie’s proposals don’t provide a significant ROI rather than this generic dismissal of political feasibility to a previously unknown (outside vermont/d.c.) presidential candidate who is now tied w/ Clinton, Inc. in the polls…

          • notjohnsmosby

            The problem is that some people are taking his words literally – that he’ll make all of this stuff happen. As we saw within two years of Obama becoming President, a lot of true believers get very demoralized very quickly when the dreams don’t become a reality overnight. The dreamers lover to show up for the party, but don’t want to stay for the cleanup and seem to abhor the hangover later in the morning.

          • Andy Schmookler

            I don’t see this the way you do, Lowell.

            Yes, with the status quo, none of this will happen. But is it impossible to change the status quo so that these things do become possible? And if so, what is the path that gets us there– including how should a leader speak to us to begin getting us down that path?

            I think the answer is that all that is possible, in a scenario that truly and effectively challenges the status quo. And that Bernie’s approach — laying out this vision, AND saying that he cannot do it alone, but will need the backing of a political revolution (which goes beyond his getting elected, and presumably is not completed overnight) — is as good a way to get us moving toward that scenario as any.

            FDR was a transformational president. He did not run as such in 1932, however. (The president who utilized what would later be called “Keynesian” stimulus ran calling for a balanced budget.) But imagine that he had run in 1932, saying that y the time he completed his second term (in early 1941):
            ** the United States would have a Social Security system;
            ** the U.S. would have banking regulations to prevent the banks where citizens deposited their money from reckless speculation (Glass Steagall);
            ** the people’s deposits in commercial banks would be insured by the federal government
            ** the rights of workers to organize and negotiate and strike would be protected by federal law (the Wagner Act)

            don’t you imagine that people would have condemned him for making “wildly unrealistic” proposals?

          • I think we’re going to have to agree to disagree on this one. Among other things, I see no comparison between FDR and those times on the one hand, and Bernie Sanders and these times on the other…

  • Another Scott

    OT: Hey, interesting changes! I like it!

    The previous incarnation of Blue Virginia wasn’t my favorite – it was especially opaque about whether a post had been commented on. This looks much more lively and should help readers know where “the action is” on the site. Thanks.


    • Thanks, glad you like it; still working out a few bugs but almost there. 🙂

  • From the HIllary Clinton for President campaign:

    Members of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus Endorse Hillary Clinton

    Richmond, VA – Today, the majority of the members of Virginia’s Legislative Black Caucus endorsed Hillary Clinton ahead of the Commonwealth’s March 1 primary. These leaders share Clinton’s commitment to reforming our criminal justice system that’s fundamentally broken, creating good paying jobs in all communities, and investing in education and health care to create opportunities across the Commonwealth.

    “After carefully studying the candidates’ positions on issues that impact my constituents in Hampton, I’m proud to join many of my colleagues in the Legislative Black Caucus to announce my endorsement of Hillary Clinton for President,” said Senator Mamie Locke, chair of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus. “Hillary will build on President Obama’s progress by fixing our broken criminal justice system, fighting systemic racism, and breaking down the barriers that are holding families back from economic success. She is also the only candidate who will protect and build on the Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s signature achievement which has helped 18 million people access health care. Hillary has spent her whole career fighting for communities like ours and I know she’ll continue that fight as President.”

    The following members of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus have announced their support of Hillary Clinton:

    Senator Mamie Locke (D-2)

    Senator Kenny Alexander (D-5)

    Senator Louise Lucas (D-18)

    Senator Donald McEachin (D-9)

    Delegate Lashrecse Aird (D-63)

    Delegate Lamont Bagby (D-74)

    Delegate Daun Hester (D-89)

    Delegate Matthew James (D-80)

    Delegate Joe Lindsey (D-90)

    Delegate Jennifer McClellan (D-71)

    Delegate Delores McQuinn (D-70)

    Delegate Lionell Spruill (D-77)

    Delegate Luke Torian (D-52)

    Delegate Roslyn Tyler (D-75)

    Delegate Jeion Ward (D-92)

  • Di Read

    Hi–I didn’t recognize it! Thought I’d gone to the wrong place. I’ll get used to it, though.

    • Yeah, definitely a lot different – hopefully better. 🙂