Thursday, October 15, 2015

Cheap shots: Democratic debate

Well, OK. I say the Democrats won. Sanders supporters and Clinton supporters alike had to feel reassured about how the party would do if their own candidate lost the primary, and Sanders and Clinton themselves set a great example in their insistence on disagreeing with each other respectfully. As someone who has had a fairly positive impression of both, I was a little more able to see what's wrong with them: more bothered than before by what looks to me like Green Lanternism on Sanders's part (I'm less concerned about his electability than what he would do if elected, which looks like not much, since as he says he needs a "political revolution" to carry out his program, whereas what he's likely to get is a GOP House and a very hostile press), and by Clinton's ability to make up a record to please any audience (especially on that TPP question, minor though it probably is in the long run). But I'm glad she called herself a progressive so decisively and forthrightly, knowing the line would get pulled out as a sound bite by all sides, and I'm glad he presents such a good example of sticking to his guns.

Something is not rotten in the state of Denmark

Most annoying moment for us self-described socialists:

Yes, Matty. Then again he may be a little ahead of Clinton, who says:
But we are not Denmark. I love Denmark. We are the United States of America. And it's our job to rein in the excesses of capitalism so that it doesn't run amok and doesn't cause the kind of inequities we're seeing in our economic system.
But we would be making a grave mistake to turn our backs on what built the greatest middle class in the history...
I wonder what she thinks the Danish government has done over the past decades other than reining in the excesses of capitalism so it doesn't run amok and cause inequities, through worker protections (beginning 1873), environmental regulation, consumer protection, a pretty stiff but highly progressive personal income tax (with a top marginal rate of 59% and equal treatment of wages and capital gains, but a lower corporate tax rate than France, Germany, Belgium, Spain, Norway, Netherlands, and Ireland), and so on.

It is not socialist in the sense of nationalizing the means of production; unlike the French government, which has large holdings in industries like air transport and automobile manufacturing, the Danish government owns only companies involved in the distribution of public goods: railways, broadcasting, the power grid (but not the power), and the lottery, like any other European country including Conservative Britain (true, Britain privatized the railroads—quadrupling the amount of money the government is on the hook for to £4 billion a year from £1 billion in the 1990s—and renationalization is the most popular item on Jeremy Corbyn's list, but then UK's National Health Service is a far more nationalized system than Denmark's, where municipal governments, not the national government, pay for health care, and own the hospitals, but doctors are self-employed).

Capitalism exists in Denmark and the other Nordic countries, and it's doing just fine, thanks! Denmark has one of the highest-performing stock markets in the world, with a 2014 return of 20.5%. Forbes magazine ranked Denmark as the "Best Country for Business" in 2014. But the excesses of capitalism are well reined in, with a Gini at 0.25 the lowest in the OECD (that's income inequality—in wealth inequality Denmark's 1% is doing disgustingly well, in fact).

Some of my best clients are black. Well, one of them.

Most embarrassing moment, from Jim Webb on the "do #blacklivesmatter?" question, which he was unable to answer correctly:
We're talking about criminal justice reform, I risked my political life raising the issue of criminal justice reform when I ran for the Senate in Virginia in 2006. I had democratic party political consultants telling me I was committing political suicide.
We led that issue in the congress. We started a national debate on it. And it wasn't until then that the Republican Party started joining in.
I also represented a so-called war criminal, an African American Marine who was wounded -- who was convicted of murder in Vietnam, for six years. He took his life three years into this. I cleared his name after -- after three years.
You'd never know his Senate crusade for criminal justice reform was about the mattering of black lives, though, because he never used the words "black" or "African American" or "race" when talking about it. But the way he brings up this one single ambiguous case from when he was a military lawyer (the case of Pfc. Samuel A. Green, one of a five-man patrol that murdered 16 noncombatant Vietnamese women and children in the village of Son Thang in February 1970, who was possibly treated more leniently than he deserved and certainly more leniently than some of his white companions, and thus hardly a victim of racial bias) is like a confession of how weak his record is.

No starbursts

Funniest Republican reaction:

Rich Lowry:
The CNN debate was like Jeb Bush swooping in and dominating a debate against Jim Gilmore, George Pataki and Lindsey Graham, and everyone concluding he’s a marvelous performer and it’s time for the bed-wetters to stop worrying about his candidacy.
You wish, Sparklepants. Bush wouldn't have a chance. I have no opinion on Gilmore (I can identify him if you show me his picture and ask "which Republican candidate is this?" by the fact that he's the one I feel I've never seen before), and Pataki is pure asshole and always has been, but as for Graham, he may be a fool and a fraud, but he's at least animated, and amusing, and has some information to impart, lots of it wrong no doubt. He'd run away with that sucker, and Jebbie's donors would be more worried than ever.

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